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Baltimore County man sentenced to 12 years in prison for a murder-for-hire conspiracy and extortion charges.

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 17:24:57-05

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — A Baltimore County man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for a murder-for-hire conspiracy and extortion charges.

According to his plea agreement, 30-year-old Stepfen Gerard Gaither was hired by codefendant Clement Robert Mercaldo, Jr. to send messages threatening victims and their families in order to extort money.

As part of the plan, Mercaldo paid Gaither to vandalize a victim’s car and set fire to a victim’s house. He also agreed to pay Gaither to murder a victim.

Documents show that Gaither also possessed with the intent to distribute 723 pills containing fentanyl and heroin that were marked as Oxycontin.

“Stepfen Gaither terrorized several victims, including sending threatening messages, setting one victim’s house on fire while they were at home, and plotting the murder of a restaurant owner,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “I commend the FBI and Baltimore County Police Department whose investigative work stopped Gaither and his co-conspirator before they succeeded in their murder-for-hire. This sentence sends a strong message that threats and violence will not be tolerated and will lead to jail time.”

Gaither and Mercaldo were arrested in June 2020.

Mercaldo, Jr. pleaded guilty to his role in the murder-for-hire on August 5, 2021 but died prior to being sentenced.

Gaither was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release