Jerry Oliver needed money. Debts were piling up.
So Oliver, 52, hired a friend to kill his ex-wife to make sure that she did not get some of his 401(k) retirement money. He gave his friend a Glock semiautomatic pistol with a full magazine and a bullet in the chamber.
Unknown to Oliver, a member of the Lexington County-Columbia chapter of the Hells Angel motorcycle club, his friend had a secret – he was a source for the FBI.
That was the testimony earlier this week of veteran FBI agent Craig Januchowski in federal court in Columbia during a hearing for Oliver, a laundry and linen service manager in Lexington County.
“Mr. Oliver said he could provide a throwaway gun,” testified Januchowski, who has participated in a number of high-profile FBI cases, including helping conduct a key videotaped interview with Charleston church killer Dylann Roof, in which Roof bragged about killing nine African-Americans at their weekly Bible study.
In mid-October, after the source retrieved the loaded gun that Oliver allegedly had left for him, Januchowski and other agents arrested Oliver.
A federal grand jury indicted Oliver on weapons and murder for hire-related charges. Oliver had requested this week’s hearing to see if a judge would set bond so he get out of jail pending his trial.
But, after hearing Januchowski’s testimony, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett ruled Oliver was both a flight risk and a “danger to the community.” She ordered him held without bond until trial.
‘Full patch’ Hells Angel
Oliver is a “full patch” Hells Angel, Januchowski testified, meaning he is a full-fledged member. Hells Angels clubs “pose a criminal threat,” according to the U.S. Justice Department, but not all members commit criminal acts.
“The government is ready to go to trial as soon as we can set a court date,” assistant U.S. Attorney Jim May told Gossett.
During the hearing, Januchowski revealed unpublicized details about the charges against Oliver:
Several months ago, Januchowski testified, a friend told Oliver that he needed help to fight a DUI charge. The friend was a truck driver, and a drunken-driving conviction would mean the friend would lose his job.
Oliver told the friend that he would give him $1,500 to hire a lawyer to fight the DUI charge if the friend would kill his ex-wife. Oliver didn’t want his ex-wife to get half of his 401(k), the subject of a court dispute between Oliver and his ex-wife.
The friend, who had a confidential relationship with the FBI, told the FBI about the deal, and agreed to wear a secret miniature video and audio recording device. Subsequently, Oliver and the FBI source discussed accessing the ex-wife’s Facebook page to see what she looked like and the best way to kill her, including “a gang-banger drive-by shooting,” Januchowski testified.
Also, “they had some initial plan to make it look like a robbery gone wrong,” testified Januchowski, adding the FBI has “numerous recordings” of the source’s meetings with Oliver.
Oliver told the FBI source he would leave a gun under the front seat of an old Studebaker car on his property. With three FBI agents, the friend retrieved the loaded Glock .40-caliber handgun with a round chambered, Januchowski testified.
‘Doesn’t make a lot of sense’
Oliver’s attorney, Ben Stitely of Lexington, urged Gossett to let Oliver get out on bond.
Oliver has no criminal record, owns his house, pays taxes and has held the same job for 15 years. He has another ex-wife “with whom he has no problems,” has children and grandchildren he takes care of, and a current live-in girlfriend that he has a stable relationship with.
“He’s more than happy to comply with any conditions,” Stitely said.
Moreover, the amount in the 401(k) was only about $30,000, and the only witness is a “snitch,” the defense attorney said.
Of the charges, Stitely said: “It just doesn’t make a lot of sense, judge.”