By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune reporter
10:29 PM CDT, August 27, 2013
Lombard businessman Daniel Dvorkin wanted the creditor responsible for a multimillion-dollar legal judgment against him dead, but he didn't seem happy with what the proposed contract killing would cost him, a government informant testified at Dvorkin's federal trial Tuesday.
"Well, first of all, the price is way out of sight," Dvorkin told Robert Bevis in a secretly recorded conversation played for jurors. "... And then, two, the deposit amount is a matter."
Bevis, a suburban gun shop owner and private investigator, testified that Dvorkin had balked at the $100,000 price tag that Bevis said his "guy" in Florida wanted to carry out the slaying — including half upfront. Bevis actually had no hit man in mind because he had gone to authorities after Dvorkin first approached him and agreed to work undercover for the FBI.
Dvorkin's attorney noted that the initial meeting with Bevis in April 2012 was not recorded.
In an undercover recording played in court of a meeting the following month at his office in Oakbrook Terrace, Dvorkin told Bevis in a casual tone that he had found other "avenues" through Russian and Mexican contacts to do the job for about $20,000 and a 10 percent deposit.
Dvorkin is on trial in federal court on charges he solicited the murder-for-hire of Larry Meyer, a Texas debt collector who in early 2012 won an $8.2 million judgment against Dvorkin stemming from defaulted loans on two corporate jets.
Dvorkin's attorney, Scott Frankel, said Dvorkin, 75, is an upstanding real estate developer who had simply made an "offhand comment" to Bevis and then got scared when Bevis actually put a plan in motion. Dvorkin concocted the story about other avenues as a way to call off the deal, Frankel said, and none of the recorded conversations captured Dvorkin actually soliciting a killing or paying any money toward that goal.
Meyer testified earlier Tuesday that the debt case was handled mostly by the attorneys, and he only remembered talking to Dvorkin once shortly after his company had bought the debt owed on the planes.
"All I remember of that conversation is Mr. Dvorkin telling me that he was broke and that he was living on Social Security," Meyer testified.
In one of their first recorded conversations, Dvorkin and Bevis talked about setting up a meeting with the Florida hit man in the south suburbs. Dvorkin suggested they go for iced tea.
Dvorkin instructed Bevis to tell the contact he intended to pay in untraceable cash and to make it clear that he didn't want to know the would-be killer's name.
Bevis told Dvorkin that the man insisted on traveling from Florida to Texas on his own.
"Wonderful!" Dvorkin exclaimed on the recording.
Dressed in a gray suit and thin-rimmed glasses, Dvorkin listened without expression as the recording was played in court.
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