Former TV chef Juan Carlos Cruz sentenced to nine years in murder-for-hire plot
Former Food Network chef Juan Carlos Cruz was sentenced Monday to nine years in state prison after pleading no contest to soliciting two homeless men to kill his wife.
The 48-year-old Westwood resident must serve half his prison term before he is eligible for parole, said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Chester Horn. Cruz also was ordered to pay $1,870 in restitution.
Santa Monica police say Cruz asked homeless men to commit homicide for him in May. After one of the homeless men told police, investigators launched a weeklong undercover operation that ended with Cruz's arrest in a Cheviot Hills dog park.
Cruz had pleaded no contest in October.
Neighbors and co-workers told The Times it was difficult to reconcile the accusations with the man they had come to know -- a devout churchgoer, community volunteer and doting husband.
Cruz's wife, Jennifer Campbell, his high-school sweetheart, worked long hours as an attorney, neighbors said. He was often seen walking the couple's two dogs outside the Westside condominium complex where they have lived for many years.
Campbell did not give a victim impact statement.
-- Andrew Blankstein