Sunday 28 May 2017

'Hitman-for-hire' in 'Lying Eyes' case facing extradition

Essam Eid, the former Las Vegas poker dealer who was jailed for extortion in the 'Lying Eyes' case. Photo: PA
Essam Eid, the former Las Vegas poker dealer who was jailed for extortion in the 'Lying Eyes' case. Photo: PA

A former Las Vegas poker dealer jailed for extortion in an elaborate hitman-for-hire scam will be extradited to the US within weeks to face similar charges.

Egyptian-born Essam Eid was sentenced to six years in prison for demanding €100,000 from a wealthy businessman's son in exchange for not killing him, his brother and their father.

The 55-year-old had been hired on the internet by mother-of-two Sharon Collins, who used the alias Lying Eyes to find a hitman to kill her partner, PJ Howard, and his two sons, Robert and Niall, in 2006.

The High Court in Dublin heard that Eid was consenting to his surrender to the US, where he is wanted by authorities for conspiracy to extort money and intent to extort money with a threat to kill.

The incidents are alleged to have happened on or around September 22 2006 in Los Angeles.

The former poker dealer was jailed in Ireland in September 2008 for extortion and handling items stolen from the Howard family business in Co Clare, but was cleared of conspiracy to murder.

He later lost an appeal against the length of his jail term.

After a seven-week trial which gripped the nation, Collins was also sentenced to six years for conspiracy to murder and six years for soliciting a man to kill the three men.

Her conspiracy conviction was later overturned on the grounds that she could not logically conspire to kill someone on her own.

Collins is still awaiting the outcome of her appeal for soliciting Eid to kill all three.

Their trial had heard the 47-year-old mother made contact with Tony Luciano - otherwise known as Essam Eid - through the Hitmanforhire.com website using the email Lyingeyes98@yahoo.ie.

The hitman and his ex-partner then flew to Ireland to wipe out PJ Howard and his two sons for US$90,000 (€63,725), but the scheme backfired and the couple were arrested when Eid tried to blackmail Robert Howard to call off the hit.

Investigators told the trial a mountain of evidence linked the co-accused through emails, adding that Collins had already obtained a fake marriage certificate and got a passport in the name of Sharon Howard in a bid to claim her partner's business and inheritance.

Eid was arrested on foot of a warrant from the US last month as his sentence in Ireland ended last month and is expected to be flown to the US within weeks after Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan made an order for his surrender.

He is wanted to stand trial for conspiring with his ex-partner, Teresa Engle, to extort money from Anne Lauren Royston, a Los Angeles-area mortgage broker, and also threatening to kill her in a telephone call in return for money.

Collins' appeal focuses on the trial judge's charge to the jury, the evidence of Ms Engle, a convicted felon in the US, the evidence of an alibi witness and the treatment of evidence relating to the poison ricin found in Eid's prison cell after his arrest.

Press Association

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