A Gravesend man convicted yesterday of the attempted armed robbery of a neighbor is now accused of plotting the key witness’s murder from his jail cell and offering an undercover cop $10,000 to do the deed, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced today.
Joseph Lombardo, 55, who lives on West 5th Street near Avenue P, was hit with a new indictment of conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder just hours after being found guilty of a February 2013 armed robbery.
In that case, Lombardo forced West 2nd Street resident Lyudmila Dushina to knock on the door of her neighbor, Janna Saleh. Saleh was home with her three children, including an 11-year-old daughter. When she answered the door, Lombardo and an unapprehended accomplice forced their way inside. Both he and the accomplice wore ski masks, hoods and gloves. They demanded money.
While the two thugs were distracted, the 11-year-old child called her father, Hussein Saleh, who was working at the family deli around the corner from the apartment. Hussein left the business just in time to witness Lombardo and his accomplice dashing out of the building and pulling of their masks.
Saleh recognized Lombardo, who he knew as “Joe,” a frequent customer at the bodega.
Lombardo was arrested soon after, and locked up at Rikers Island until his trial. From his prison cell, he plotted to avoid conviction by silencing Saleh, the only person who could identify him in court.
Beginning in May 2014, according to prosecutors, Lombardo dogged a fellow inmate to “take care of a witness,” referring to Saleh.
“I don’t care how you do it, I just want him dead,” Lombardo implored the unidentified inmate, according to the district attorney’s office.
The inmate turned him down several times, and eventually ratted him out to investigators.
The inmate set Lombardo up with an undercover detective posing as a hitman, who spoke to the defendant by phone. Lombardo, though, didn’t trust a voice over the line – so he demanded to meet the killer in person. The undercover killer and Lombardo hashed out the murder at Rikers Island’s vistor’s area on August 30, with Lombardo going so far as drawing a map of the deli with instructions on how to access the apartment. He also directed the “killer” to steal cash and cigarettes to make it look like a robbery gone bad, according to investigators.
He offered $10,000 for the job.
The meeting ended with Lombardo being none the wiser about the setup – until Saleh appeared in court to testify against him. He was found guilty and faces 25 years to life when sentenced in October.
It wasn’t until cuffs were slapped on him again after the conviction that the undercover revealed himself, and the new charges filed. If found guilty, Lombardo faces an additional 25 years to life.