October 16, 2017 / 10:46 PM / 8 months ago

Ex-U.S. soldier 'Rambo' faces new murder-for-hire charges

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Monday brought new charges against a former U.S. Army sergeant nicknamed “Rambo” who is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to taking part in a murder-for-hire conspiracy.

Prosecutors said the former sergeant, Joseph Hunter, paid two other men, Adam Samia and Carl Stillwell, $35,000 each to murder a woman in the Philippines in February 2012. The two men shot the woman multiple times in the face, according to prosecutors.

The new charges against Hunter, brought in an indictment by a grand jury, carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to an announcement from Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan.

Hunter, 52, is expected to be brought to New York to face the charges on Oct. 25, according to Kim. He is currently incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, according to federal Bureau of Prisons records.

Samia, 43, and Stillwell, 49, were arrested and charged in 2015 in connection with the woman’s death and are scheduled to go to trial in April. Monday’s indictment included additional charges against them as well. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to prosecutors.

Lawyers for the three men could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors have said that Hunter supervised an international band of hit men while working for Paul Le Roux, the Zimbabwe-born head of a multinational criminal organisation.

Le Roux was arrested in Liberia in 2012 and agreed to cooperate with authorities, admitting to his involvement in global drugs and weapons trafficking and to having ordered various murders, according to court records.

The original case against Hunter, for which he is now serving his prison sentence, arose from a sting operation Le Roux helped orchestrate, court records showed.

Prosecutors said that while working for Le Roux, Hunter and others agreed to assassinate a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and an agency source in Liberia in exchange for $800,000.

Those murders were never carried out, and Hunter was arrested in Thailand in 2013. He pleaded guilty to U.S. charges in February 2015 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May 2016, according to court records.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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