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Suspect sentenced to 6 years in prison in bizarre murder-for-hire conviction

KABC-TV covers Los Angeles and Southern California.

January 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A Goleta man was sentenced Monday to six years in prison for a murder-for-hire plot in a bizarre ongoing case.

Eugene Temkin, 51, was sentenced Monday allegedly tried to have a former business associate, Michael Hershman, killed by hiring hit men. The second attempt came four months after the FBI discovered and warned Temkin against his plans.

Temkin lent $500,000 to Hershman in 2001 to invest in a casino deal in Equatorial Guinea. Court documents say the two men met in the 1980s when they were selling drugs. Hershman was unable to immediately repay the loan, and Temkin sued him. The lawsuit was settled in 2006.

Temkin was accused of harassing Hershman and his family afterwards. Temkin allegedly hired people to stalk and harass Hershman. Hershman's daughter was hospitalized for suffering paranoid hallucinations believed connected to Temkin's actions.

Temkin repeatedly threatened and harassed Hershman and his family, investigators said. Pictures and other heirlooms were stolen from Hershman's storage unit. Their emails were hacked, and his children said they were followed by strange men.

Temkin was never charged in connection with those incidents, but Hershman obtained a restraining order against him in 2007, saying Temkin made gun signals at him with his hands, according to an affidavit.

A friend of Temkin's contacted the L.A. County Sheriff's Department in 2009 over concern that Temkin wanted to extort and murder Hershman.

An undercover FBI agent posing as a hit man met several times with Temkin to discuss the murder-for-hire. FBI agents in 2010 met with Temkin to warn him not to threaten, hurt or kill Hershman.

Several months later, authorities learned Temkin still wanted to kill Hershman. Another undercover officer began meeting with Temkin posing as a hit man. Temkin told the agent to kill Hersman in July 2010. He provided Hersman's passport number, photographs of intended victims and $30,000 cash.

Temkin was arrested six days later at his home outside of Santa Barbara.

Temkin was convicted in 2011 of three murder-for-hire-related counts. Federal prosecutors had sought a 20-year prison sentence of Temkin. A U.S. district judge found Temkin had no prior record.

Temkin, shackled in handcuffs, asked for forgiveness during the hearing Monday, but never directly mentioned Hershman, who sat only a few feet away.

"I seek forgiveness from those who were adversely affected by my actions," said Temkin, who on several occasions looked in Hershman's direction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.