A Charles County jury on Wednesday found a Waldorf businessman not guilty of a plot to allegedly take out a hit on a rival.
Charles County Circuit Judge William R. Greer Jr. oversaw the trial that began last week and continued through Wednesday this week of Anoop Aggarwal for solicitation of murder, distribution of controlled dangerous substance and firearms charges.
The jury, after deliberating for multiple days, found Aggarwal not guilty on two counts of solicitation to commit murder and one count of possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.
Aggarwal was found guilty on one count of distribution of narcotics, while the jury was hung on a third count of solicitation.
James Farmer, who represented Aggarwal, called the verdict a “good result.”
“Anoop did not intend for anyone to get hurt and nobody got hurt,” Farmer said after the trial Wednesday evening.
A call to the office of Charles County State’s Attorney Tony Convington was not returned by press time.
Prosecutors said that William Kern Jr. revealed the alleged murder-for-hire plot while in custody after a Jan. 31 arrest on possession and false identity charges.
Kern told law enforcement officials that Aggarwal had approached him and asked if he would kill a rival business owner over lost income to the tune of $400,000. The target was alleged as the owner of the Tinder Box, a cigarette shop based in Waldorf.
During testimony, Kern said that he and Aggarwal knew each other from an alleged deal they had trading cocaine for cigarettes.
Kern said he was driven to the target’s home and Aggarwal allegedly told him to “kill him in front of his family.”
Instead, Kern worked with law enforcement issues and setup two meetings between Aggarwal and an undercover agent with the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The two spoke on the phone, and then had two in-person meetings on Feb. 20 and March 5 where the agent and Aggarwal traded cigarettes for cocaine, and allegedly spoke about the murder plans.
Aggarwal allegedly offered between $3,000 and $4,000 to carry out the hit during the Feb. 20 meeting, according to prosecutors.
When the agent mentioned purchasing a weapon, Aggarwal said he had a weapon for him, later alleged as a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver. Aggarwal allegedly said the weapon was “untraceable” as the cartridges are not ejected from the gun when fired.
A search warrant allegedly turned up the revolver and ammunition in a residence where Aggarwal resided.
Prosecutors also presented several firearms as evidence from area businesses that the Aggarwal family owned, including Willets Liquor in La Plata.
The defense argued that Aggarwal didn’t want to hurt anyone, and used his actions after the initial meeting to justify their claim. They argued that Aggarwal was evasive in talking with the agent in order to get the man to leave him alone.
Kern’s testimony was also called into question by the defense due to his criminal record, arguing that Kern fabricated the story in order to potentially receive a lighter sentence for a Jan. 31 arrest.
Kern vigorously denied those claims during testimony last week, which turned combative at times between him and the defense.
The defense also argued that Aggarwal gave a false identification of the target and did not provide the agent with a weapon to commit the crime.
But in closing arguments, the prosecution said the conversations between the undercover agent and Kern proved that Aggarwal had intent for the target to be killed.
A status hearing on the outstanding count of solicitation will be heard at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. That date will also serve to schedule sentencing on the distribution of narcotics conviction.