A South Florida business owner accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill family members including his wife and young child, stockpiling guns and bomb-making materials and threatening the life of President Barack Obama was ordered held on $5 million bond Tuesday.
Jason D. Simione, 39, was arrested Monday and is charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, one count of threatening to throw, place or discharge a destructive device and one count of child abuse, authorities said.
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Authorities believe that Simione “inquired to have a person come up from El Salvador, specifically a MS-13 gang member, and offered to pay up to $150,000 to dispose of his wife, mother-in-law and brother-in-law, and child, if he did not receive custody of the child," Broward Sheriff's Office Det. Ricky Libman said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
He described Simione – who lives in Dania Beach and is the owner of Bulldog Tactical Equipment in Fort Lauderdale – as a survivalist who stores food in case there's a natural disaster or the U.S. government collapses.
“He’s made statements to me and his employees about how unhappy he is with government policy, specifically the president," said Libman, of BSO's Violent Crimes Unit.
Workers fortified Simione's home "in lieu of a SWAT or a law enforcement assault," Libman said. He described one room as "a last stand room."
“The back of the door was a silhouette of an average-sized person that would be on the outside of the door with X’s marked where to shoot at to make sure to hit a vital organ. He basically set up kill zones in his house for an assault," Libman said. "The walls were refortified, the windows were barred. It would be a nightmarish tactical situation if anybody had to actually go in there."
Simione made his first appearance before Broward Judge John Hurley Tuesday morning, where his bond was set.
"The court's very concerned on a number of levels," Hurley said. "Number one is, the court is concerned with his alleged willingness to hire a hitman to kill everyone in his family including his own child."
According to the arrest affidavit read by Hurley, Simione's wife went to the Broward Sheriff's Office on Friday to report alleged child abuse by Simione against the couple's 9-month-old child.
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The wife told detectives Simione had displayed paranoid behavior recently, including violent outbursts and delusions, and had been abusing illegal steroids, Hurley said. In one of the outbursts, Simione threw their child onto a table, causing a laceration, the wife said, according to Hurley.
She also said she had seen bomb-making materials at Simione's homes in Dania and Stuart, Hurley said.
When detectives interview some of Simione's employees, they said he had become increasingly hostile and paranoid, had been regularly making threats toward his wife in front of the employees and had "expressed distaste for the U.S. government policies," Hurley said.
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"The employees said you repeatedly have threatened the President of the United States, saying that he should be murdered," Hurley said.
Employees said Simione had been stockpiling firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials and had threatened to kill anyone who attempted to arrest him or take his child, Hurley said.
Simione's employees said they had witnessed him taking steroids and had helped him reinforce his home in Dania to prevent breaches by law enforcement and had made "kill zones" if police made entry into the home, Hurley said.
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One employee said he had been approached by Simione who asked whether he could help him find someone to kill his wife, their child and his wife's mother and brother, Hurley said.
Simione offered $150,000 for their deaths and "tagged each person with code names," Hurley said.
Employees said they saw a large amount of guns, ammunition and bomb-making materials in Simione's house, including threaded galvanized metal pipes, threaded pipe caps, nails, gun powder, propane cylinders, wire and batteries, Hurley said.
Simione had .50-caliber sniper rifles, automatic rifles and illegal ammunition including armor-piercing rounds, Hurley said.
According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, 68 rifles, shotguns and handguns were found in Simione's house, along with between 60,000-70,000 rounds of ammunition.
All of the guns are legally owned but were taken for safekeeping because of a protection order recently obtained by Simione's wife, the BSO said.
During Tuesday's hearing, prosecutors said Simione's net worth was between $2 to $9 million. They said he has no prior arrests.
Simione's attorney, David Bogenschutz, had argued for a lesser bond of $25,000 on each count. He said Simione has been a South Florida resident a long time and is going through a nasty divorce.
"He's in the middle of a divorce and it's a pretty contentious divorce," Bogenschutz said.
If Simione posts bond, he will have to wear a GPS monitor and must stay away from his wife and her family and their child, Hurley said.
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