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Navy sailor sentenced in murder-for-hire plot against his wife

Seaman Uriel Gerardo Olivas, who is being held in pre-trial confinement, gave a $500 down payment to an undercover officer pretending to be a hitman in order to have his wife murdered.

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By COURTNEY MABEUS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: July 20, 2019

NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Navy sailor Uriel Gerardo-Olivas wanted to hire a hitman to murder another sailor he says had threatened his life and the lives of his girlfriend and baby.

But, he had a problem. He didn't have the money.

To raise the funds, Gerardo-Olivas gave a $500 down payment to a man to kill his wife so he could use her life insurance proceeds to pay for the other hit.

This time, Gerado-Olivas ran into a new problem.

The hitman, who he knew as "Mike," was an undercover law enforcement agent.

On Friday, following a court martial at Naval Station Norfolk, Judge Cmdr. Hayes C. Larsen sentenced Gerardo-Olivas to 25 years confinement, with 15 suspended. He was reduced in rank to E-1, and he will receive a dishonorable discharge.

In return for pleading guilty to attempted murder, the Navy dropped other charges Gerardo-Olivas faced, including communicating a threat, larceny, use of marijuana and solicitation, according to a charge sheet. He also faced a charge of aggravated assault with a loaded firearm after he was accused of pointing a weapon at a neighbor in Hampton.

Gerardo-Olivas was arrested July 6, 2018, after Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents surrounded the car in which he handed "Mike" an envelope containing the cash and photos of his wife and told him where he could find her in the coming days. The car was parked near a movie theater by the Naval Exchange in Norfolk.

Then-seaman Gerardo-Olivas worked as an aviation boatswain's mate handling fuel aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, to which he had been assigned since 2014, according to a Navy biography.

In testimony, Gerardo-Olivas told the judge that he'd been bullied by a first class petty officer. He said he'd reported it to his command and went to a ship psychiatrist but wasn't taken seriously. He considered suicide but decided "that would be too messy," he said.

His civilian defense counsel, Noah Weisberg, said other sailors had also complained about the petty officer, who received a "letter of instruction" regarding his hostile behavior toward others but was still left to torment them.

That's when Gerardo-Olivas turned to another sailor while underway. He thought that man could help arrange a hit but instead, that sailor turned to law enforcement.

Neither that sailor or the petty officer, who was described as an electrician's mate, were called as witnesses Friday.

Marissa Wheeler, Gerardo-Olivas' wife, described her husband as a man who dazzled her when they first met but then strung her along, leaving her for other women and then circling back. The couple wed at the courthouse in Norfolk in January 2017 when Gerardo-Olivas told her that he was going to be stationed in Japan.

If they got married, he could stay in the U.S., she recounted him telling her. By then, she had moved to the Washington, D.C. area for work.

"I stupidly said yes to him," Wheeler said in a victim impact statement.

He deployed days later and, when he returned, failed to answer her calls. Instead, she saw him on social media with another woman. After they agreed to divorce and Wheeler learned Gerardo-Olivas was having a child with another woman, the couple continued to message. It was unclear Friday if they are still married.

The day Gerardo-Olivas was arrested was Wheeler's 23rd birthday. He messaged and called to wish her a "happy birthday" and ask what she was up to.

"What he was really doing was gathering up information to have me killed," Wheeler said.

Gerardo-Olivas told the judge that he had second thoughts about the hit but he was too scared to call off the plan while he was in the car with "Mike," who he described as vulgar, big, and intimidating. Instead, he said, he was going to call him after and tell him to forget it and just keep the down payment.

Navy prosecutor Lt. Michaela Reardon called Gerardo-Olivas a "cold-blooded killer." His mother was in Norfolk visiting from Oregon and he'd dropped her off at the airport just before meeting "Mike."

Yamel Olivas-Solis said her son never mentioned being threatened. She said she "noticed something weird, but I didn't ask."

Undercover video showed Gerardo-Olivas appearing calm as he entered the car and handed over the down payment on the $5,000 hit. When "Mike" told him that $5,000 would not cover the total cost, Gerardo-Olivas replied that he was willing to pay more.

The hitman asked him how he wanted it done.

Gerardo-Olivas told him: "Do what you want."

©2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
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