A federal inmate is accused of trying to hire a hit man from jail to kill the prosecutor and a witness in his drug trafficking case.
Jason Willmon, 44, allegedly used a telephone to discuss possible hits on a witness and Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wulff. Willmon was being held in the Bi-State Justice Building at the time on federal drug trafficking charges filed in the Hot Springs Division of the Western District of Arkansas. Wulff handles federal cases in several Arkansas divisions, including Texarkana.
Willmon allegedly made the call April 17, 2015 from the Bi-State. He was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine Dec. 15 by U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in Hot Springs federal court.
Thursday morning, Willmon appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven for arraignment in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas. Texas-side Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Locker was able to charge Willmon because the Bi-State building is in both states.
Texarkana attorney John Stroud entered pleas of not guilty to charges of solicitation of a crime of violence and use of an interstate commerce facility, a telephone, to facilitate the commission of murder for hire. Craven scheduled the case for jury selection April 25 before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder.
Solicitation of a crime of violence is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both. Use of a telephone to facilitate the commission of murder for hire is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.