Feds: Charlotte mom wanted hitman to silence witness in diamond heist trial
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A federal grand jury indicted a Charlotte mother on three counts of trying to kill or hurt federal witnesses in the trial of men accused in a cross-country diamond heist crime spree, according to records filed in U.S. District Court.
According to the three-page indictment, Brittany Ladd, 22, "did knowingly attempt to kill V.L. with the intent to prevent the attendance and testimony of V.L. in an official proceeding." The records also said Ladd wanted to have another witness intimidated with the "threat of physical force."
In a bond hearing for Ladd in a Charlotte magistrate courtroom this week, it was revealed by prosecutors 'V.L.' are the initials for Victor Lupis, 25, of Union County.
The other witness in Ladd's indictment only referred to as 'C.B.' was not publicly identified.
Lupis is a cooperating witness in the federal trial against three men accused of stealing nearly $2 million in diamonds and jewelry in a string of organized diamond heists in Oregon, Nevada, California, Tennessee and Florida, federal court records show.
According to a criminal complaint, Lupis admitted to being apart of the team that would steal the jewels and sell them in Pennsylvania.
The document also said evidence in the investigation was found in a Matthews home connected to Lupis.
Charged in the heist investigation are Michael C. Young, 31, whom Lupis claims was the mastermind, Ernest H. Remor, 36, and Trey S. Adams, 27, of Charlotte. All are awaiting trial in Oregon.
Prosecutors in Ladd's case said Adams is the father of Ladd's two children, suggesting the alleged motive to have Lupis killed, was to allow the couple's children to have both parents if Adams was cleared.
During testimony in the bond hearing, prosecutors said the meeting for the murder for hire plot happened in Chili's parking lot at the Arboretum. At that meeting was Ladd, an undercover FBI agent and an FBI informant known only as 'Ray', another FBI agent testified.
The agent testified Ladd had planned to pay for the hit on Lupis with money and illegal prescription drugs.
Ladd's defense attorney Rick Winiker, painted a different picture of his client that is a contrast to the mugshots taken by police.
"Brittany is a full-time student, single mother of two young children," he told WBTV, "this has been devastating for her; she's been separated from her children." Ladd's Facebook profile listed her as a student at Central Peidmont Community College.
Winiker said Ladd has the complete support of her family and friends in Charlotte.
That was evident at the bond hearing where Ladd's relatives filled the public seating area. Her parents pleaded to U.S. District Court Judge David Keesler to grant a bond for Ladd to allow her to care for her young children.
"All of her friends and family have rallied around her and offered their unconditional support," Winiker said.
Winiker said Ladd has been cooperative with FBI investigators, even voluntarily turning over her cell phone as evidence of her innocence. During the bond hearing, Winiker said the FBI informant 'Ray' pressured Ladd to meet with he and the undercover agent via text messages.
Winiker said Ladd was a person who was easily manipulated by the informant.
He said the informant was unreliable because the only reason the informant reached out to the feds about the alleged plot was to get out of his own legal problems.
Judge Keesler ordered Ladd held without bond.
She was in custody of U.S. Marshals because of the federal charges, but was being held in the Gaston County Jail.
She is expected to be transported to Oregon to await trial.
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