Special to The Leader
A 36 year-old Sylvania, Georgia man has pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced United States Attorney John M. Bales Tuesday.
Maurice Labriel Underwood pleaded guilty on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, to conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities to commit murder-for-hire before U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield.
According to information presented in court, on Jan. 26, 2011, law enforcement officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle Underwood was driving in Orange, Texas. During the traffic stop, Underwood and his passenger gave officers conflicting stories regarding their intended destination and reason for travel. Officers then asked for, and received, consent to search the vehicle. During the search, officers discovered two SKS assault rifles and a bag containing black clothing, a black ski mask, latex gloves, a beard trimmer, photographs of three individuals, and printed directions to an address in Cleveland, Texas. Underwood later told police he had been given $1,000 and promised a Freightliner truck in exchange for murdering three individuals in Cleveland, Texas. Underwood was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 6, 2012.
Underwood faces up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Tortorice.