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Goleta man sentenced to 6 years in murder-for-hire plot

January 30, 2012 |  4:06 pm

Eugene Temkin had a job he wanted done, and he knew precisely how he wanted it.

The intended victims, including a former business associate with whom he'd had a nasty court fight, were to be hogtied and raped. They were to be tortured and forced to send $15 million to Temkin's off-shore bank account in Uruguay. They were then to be killed at their vacation home in Spain.

That's what Temkin told a hit man he hired for the job and paid $3,000 as down payment. But that killer, whom Temkin knew as “Pavel,” was in fact an undercover FBI agent. On Monday, Temkin was sentenced to six years in prison for the murder-for-hire scheme, for which he was convicted of three federal charges last August.

The sentence was far less severe than what federal prosecutors had sought. They asked that the Goleta man be sentenced to 20 years in prison, citing what they called a decadelong “campaign of harassment and threats” against the victims. Temkin, 51, launched the murder-for-hire plot “with meticulous planning and full contemplation,” they wrote in court papers.

Defense attorneys alleged that the informant who initially brought Temkin’s intentions to authorities had been overzealous and contended that Temkin tried to back out of the plot. Calling the undercover operation an “imperfect entrapment,” they said the FBI’s involvement spurred some of Temkin's actions.

“It wasn’t until professional undercover agents from the FBI became involved in dealing with Mr. Temkin that caused him, as found by the court, to ‘cross the line,’ ” the attorneys wrote in court papers. “It is submitted that without the intervention of the FBI, that 'line' would never have been crossed.”

They also cited a forensic psychologist’s report finding that Temkin's behavior was an “aberration” and that with treatment, he would not pose a threat.

According to prosecutors, Temkin met the intended victim, Michael Hershman, when they were both working as drug dealers. In 2004, Temkin sued him over a $500,000 investment in a failed gaming venture in Africa. Although they settled the suit, Temkin began threatening and harassing Hershman and started plotting extortion and murder, prosecutors alleged.

In the process, Temkin obtained detailed personal information about Hershman and his family, according to prosecutors.

In 2009 and 2010, Temkin met with two FBI agents posing as hit men. Despite a visit from law enforcement officials who cautioned him not to harass or threaten Hershman, Temkin agreed to hire one of the undercover agents to kill Hershman, his wife and a business associate for a total of $30,000. He told the hit man to have “no mercy,” according to prosecutors.

In court papers, Hershman pleaded with the judge to protect his family, writing that they had lived through “10 years of hell.” His daughter, a UCLA honor student, suffers from hallucinations and was hospitalized for schizophrenia from the trauma, he said.

"Strange men were stalking all of us. It went on for years, confrontations, our house, our phones, our emails,” he wrote.

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Ruling limits some mentally ill from representing selves in court

--Victoria Kim
twitter.com/vicjkim

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