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Local News

March 29, 2014

Police: Man tried hiring hitman to kill witnesses

An Oneonta man already jailed on sexual assault and domestic violence charges has been indicted on charges of hiring a hitman to kill two women connected to the pending cases, local and federal authorities said Friday

The plot allegedly hatched behind bars by Maxie Godfrey, 62, of 195 Main St., unraveled after he told other inmates he wanted to hire a contract killer, information that later got back to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office, officials said.

An undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, then met several times with Godfrey at the Otsego County Correctional Facility just south of Cooperstown — meetings at which Godfrey allegedly requested the murder of the female victims. Authorities would not disclose whether the undercover agent was posing as a visitor or an inmate.

Godfrey has now compounded his legal difficulties, Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. said.

“Some people seem to think that if you make the witnesses go away, it will make the case go away,” he said. “We’ve had similar cases in the past.”

The new charges brought against Godfrey are conspiracy in the second degree and criminal solicitation in the second degree. Arraigned on those charges before County Judge Brian Burns, Godfrey could face up to 32 years in state prison if convicted, officials said.

The inmate who came forward with information about the plot — a key tip that led to the sting — didn’t alert investigators to gain an advantage in his own case but rather because it was the right thing to do, Devlin said.

“Not all inmates are bad people,” the sheriff said. “They are people who have made mistakes.”

District Attorney John Muehl agreed, saying, “He (the informant) didn’t do this to benefit himself.”

As for the murder plot, there is no question that Godfrey was “serious,” the prosecutor said.

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