BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — Two Baltimore County men are facing federal indictment for murder-for-hire, extortion and related charges.
According to officials, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging 61-year-old Clement Robert Mercaldo, Jr. and 29-year-old Stepfen Gerard Gaither for a murder-for-hire conspiracy, use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, collection of credit by extortion, and for interstate communications with intent to extort.
Gaither is also charged for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin.
The indictment states that Mercaldo loaned money to a Baltimore County restaurant owner. The indictment alleges that from March 2019 through February 2020, Mercaldo and Gaither conspired to commit a murder in exchange for cash. The defendants allegedly sent numerous text messages threatening harm to the restaurant owner, his business partner and their families, related to the loan.
Mercaldo and Gaither allegedly discussed and planned the murder of one or both of the victims.
The indictment alleges that on June 23, 2020, Gaither possessed with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of a mixture of fentanyl and heroin.
If convicted, Mercaldo and Gaither face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for the murder-for-hire conspiracy and for use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for both collection of credit by extortionate means and for interstate communications with intent to extort.
Gaither also faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.