A Goleta resident is expected to be arraigned Monday in a Los Angeles federal court for attempting to hire a hit man to extort a former business partner out of $5 million, then kill him.
Eugene Temkin, 50, not only apparently decided he wanted Michael Hershman — a Los Angeles-area resident to whom Temkin loaned money several years ago — dead, but had also come up with a variety of ways to do so, according to court documents.
Authorities were first approached by a person who said Temkin told him he wanted to hire a hit man to kill Hershman, who Temkin believed scammed him out of a few hundred-thousand dollars, according to an affidavit from FBI special agent Ingerd Sotelo.
So the FBI recorded several conversations between Temkin and a undercover detective from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, posing as a hired killer, and details of Temkin’s alleged plotting came forth.
During the first meeting in November, Temkin told the undercover detective that Hershman had burned him for “two-and-a-half large” eight years ago, a total a “five today.” He said that while Hershman lives in Bel Air, he also spends time in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, and that Temkin had some guys there who could “scoop up” the victim and keep him “hog-tied in a basement.” Another crew could “scoop up” the victim’s wife and children as leverage, as the family’s well-being would be “directly proportionate to [Hershman’s] appropriate actions.”
Those appropriate actions, the affidavit alleged, would be for Hershman to wire $5 million to an untraceable bank account, after intimidation by the hit man. He then indicated that after the money was handed over, it would be an issue if Hershman was “still in the world,” though Temkin said he hadn’t figured out where Hershman would “meet his final destiny.”
He did allegedly tell the undercover detective, however, that they could shoot him with a high-powered rifle from a window in a crowded square. The Dominican Republic, where Hershman apparently travels on occasion, was Temkin’s first choice, because “assassination in a third world country is … just another day in the park,” Temkin said, according to the affidavit. “And then it’s clean — it’s all over.”
Another option, Temkin allegedly said, was to beat Hershman for a week until he paid the money, though he also intimated that there was a small chance Hershman would pay without having to harm him.
In December, a conversation in a Malibu Starbucks parking lot took place, where Temkin said he was considering grabbing Hershman and locking him in a doghouse until Hershman had a solution to the problem.
He again told the undercover hit man that he had people who could “snatch” Hershman and his family, but his people would not actually kill the Hershmans, leaving the “hit man” as the “cleanup man.” The detective recommended something that would make the death look like a suicide, to which Temkin allegedly responded, “Suicide is a beautiful thing.”
In February, Temkin gave the undercover detective a few more scenarios, including taking Hershman out on the ocean and dropping him 100 miles offshore. The other was to hang him from a door, putting some drugs in an ashtray and some lipstick and Vaseline around his privates, to make it look “like a jack-off gone wrong.” He also spoke of assaulting the victim’s wife and daughter to break the victim down and make him pay.
“Flat-out whacking them” was also on the table, Temkin said, though he preferred dropping Hershman into the sea 10 miles from shore, giving the victim a chance at survival because, Temkin, as a Jew, was not supposed to kill other Jews. “[Y]ou know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” he allegedly said. “Well, I’m just making him stronger.”
According to her affidavit, FBI agent Sotelo interviewed Temkin in March. Temkin allegedly told authorities he gave Hershman $250,000 to invest, but never got his money back. After he lent the money, he couldn’t make payments on a property, and eventually lost it. He then sued Hershman for $900,000 and was awarded $450,000, but much of it went to paying attorneys. In their conversation, according to Sotelo, Temkin denied threatening Hershman, but said he himself had been threatened. The meeting ended with the FBI agent admonishing Temkin not to hurt, threaten, or kill Hershman, nor have anyone else do those things.
According to an FBI interview with Hershman, the two met more than 20 years ago when they both sold drugs in Los Angeles. Temkin at one time asked Hershman if he would help him hire a hit man to kill a tenant he was trying to evict. Temkin, according to Hershman, loaned him $500,000 to invest in a casino in Equatorial Guinea, Africa, but that the casino didn’t do well and he was unable to repay Temkin right away. Temkin had taken the money from a second mortgage on an apartment building he owned, and because he didn’t have the money to make the payments, eventually lost it to foreclosure.
Despite the lawsuit’s resolution, Hershman said Temkin has been relentless in his threats for years and has always wanted money from him. Hershman even offered more cash and a job, but Temkin declined, Hershman said. The two also had mutual restraining orders against one another.
In May, the original witness came to the FBI and said that despite the authorities’ admonishment, Temkin had indicated he still wanted the Hershman family killed. The undercover agent called Temkin and said he wasn’t available any longer because he had been arrested, but said he would have someone else be in touch. Another agent allegedly called, posing as a hit man, but Temkin said he already had the services of someone else. If that person passed on the job, he would be in touch, Temkin allegedly said.
On June 30, authorities were contacted once again by the witness, who said that Temkin told him the plan was going forward and a “Special Forces” guy might be used. Temkin also allegedly indicated he wanted to kill a business partner of Hershman’s.
A week later Temkin called the second undercover agent and the two agreed to meet. In the meeting Temkin told about his earlier run-in with the FBI, and believed Hershman had taken surveillance photos and gone to the Feds. He told the hit man that the targets were in an apartment in Spain, and that he wanted the hit man to “very strongly persuade these people to move the money” to his Uruguayan bank account.
Temkin purportedly told the hit man he wanted him to take the Hershmans on “a nice boat ride far to sea,” but remained cryptic on details. The agent cut in, saying, “Basically, you want me to …” but he was interrupted: “I think we understand each other,” Temkin said. The undercover agent, wanting to be on the same page, asked for clarification. “Well, I figure that, let them swim home. Let them swim home.”
“So basically get rid of them,” the undercover agent said. Responded Temkin, “Well, let them swim home. It’ll be a very, very, very good workout. An extremely good workout. They’re motherfuckers.”
The agent said he would do the job for $30,000. Temkin said he would pay a $3,000 deposit and pay the balance within a month. He outfitted the undercover agent with Hershman and his wife’s names, L.A. address, Social Security numbers, passport numbers, and dates of birth. He also included info on the business partner. The agent, one more time, inquired to make sure Temkin knew what he was hiring the man to do. “I just want to have an understanding with you,” the agent said. “I’m gone, I walk out here, the job is done. They’re not gonna come back from the trip. It’s all done. You understand that?” Temkin said he did.
Not long after, Temkin was arrested, and a federal grand jury indicted him on solicitation to commit a crime of violence, attempting to interfere with commerce by threats and violence, and use of interstate commerce facilities in commission of murder-for-hire. No contact information for Temkin nor Hershman could be found. Temkin is expected to be in court Monday. If convicted, he could face 50 years in prison.