By Ciaran Symonette, CNN
A Michigan man who founded a website and supplied a woman with a hitman – or, as he believed she asked, a “fraud” to have her ex-husband killed – is currently under house arrest. He’s at first being tried in Michigan alone, but the incident has led authorities in at least two other states to take a look at him, as well.
Matthew Manard was sentenced to 23 years in prison last April, for running so-called hit man website, fakemercy.com. In February 2015, the website was up and running on the internet.
“For a few weeks during the peak of my scam, me and a client and a man were working out of the same apartment,” Manard wrote on the website. “I had my hands full with the lab and consulting phone lines. In the process, he called me and asked me to call up his ex-wife and tell her that I could have a hit man killed in her place for her. At the end of the conversation, he really asked me for money so he could pay the hit man.”
Manard said he “featured” a “web-girl” on the website who had pretended to be his ex-wife.
“I had to convince her that we’d discuss some real money and she would be paid up front. She needed to believe I was really her husband’s boyfriend. Our conversation was set up so that I would get paid $1,500 to send it to her,” Manard wrote.
A message from the creator of the site, Matthew Manard
In his sentencing statement, Manard said he developed the idea for the site while he was in prison and was thinking about “getting out a little earlier than I was supposed to.”
Manard says his company was only meant to provide a revenue source for a website whose sole purpose was to run an ad network, so he never intended for the site to be used to solicit murder. However, his contract with his company – Surrogate Choice Services (SCS) – promised he would receive 60% of whatever he received for advertising on the site, and Manard took $20,000 of the funds that went to SCS.
But according to an April 2015 report by the ABC affiliate in Michigan, Lansing affiliate WNEM-TV, he purchased a gun and enlisted the help of his girlfriend, who was supposed to help him pose as his ex-wife.
The station says that during their conversation Manard told her she had to kill her ex-husband on his own without anyone else doing it. She agreed, and the couple planned to meet the following day at a 7-Eleven in downtown Lansing to have the alleged ex-husband killed for $1,500.
Their meeting was interrupted by a police officer, who pulled over the car the couple was in and arrested the two. The couple was indicted in Michigan in August 2015.
After he was arrested, Manard pled guilty and eventually pleaded guilty to selling a firearm to someone who was not eligible to buy one. But after a November 2015 interview with police in West Virginia and CEL, Manard was re-indicted for solicitation of murder-for-hire and he had a new trial set for April 2016.
Manard insists the website was only meant to raise money for a website. His attorney, Dana Glenn, did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Manard remained out on bond until he was re-indicted in July.
Manard’s path leads to the FBI, warrant for his arrest
Following the indictment, an additional indictment was filed by Michigan state prosecutors against Manard, his girlfriend and a man, whom they said is facing money laundering charges.
The second indictment includes a “conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to transport a firearm without a license and conspiracy to illegally influence a public servant,” reads a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan.
Manard’s website is now defunct, but it is still available on the internet.
The alleged victim of Manard’s plan is not the only person that made the site reach the attention of the FBI.
In 2010, Amanda Murphy was indicted on charges that she purchased a gun and brought it to California where she was working to find an heir to her uncle’s ranch. According to the Senate Oversight Report, there was one bullet in the gun, which