Fourth person indicted in Sweetie Pie’s murder-for-hire plot

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ST. LOUIS – A federal grand jury indicted a fourth person in connection with a murder-for-hire plot involving the co-owner of a Sweetie Pie’s franchise who allegedly killed his own nephew to claim several hundred thousand dollars off an insurance policy.

According to Thursday’s superseding indictment, Travell Anthony Hill joined James Norman, Terica Ellis, and Waiel Yaghnam in the murder-for-hire conspiracy.

Federal prosecutors allege that Norman, who operated his own Sweetie Pie’s in Jackson, Mississippi, took out a $450,000 life insurance policy in 2014 on his nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr., with Norman named as the sole beneficiary. Then in March 2016, Norman contacted and communicated with Ellis, an exotic dancer living in Memphis, Tennessee, who told Norman via cellphone she would be in St. Louis.

On the day prior to Montgomery’s death, Norman flew to St. Louis from the Los Angeles area. Once in St. Louis, prosecutors say both Norman and Ellis communicated with each other via burner phones. Ellis also used the phone to learn Montgomery’s location and then called Norman and Hill.

Montgomery was shot and killed in the 3900 block of Natural Bridge Road just after 8 p.m. on March 14, 2016.

Information from Ellis’ burner phone placed her near the scene of Montgomery’s murder. After Montgomery was killed, Ellis called Norman and then drove back to Memphis.

Prosecutors say on March 16, Hill received a cash payment of $5,000 from Norman. That same day, Hill placed a call to an individual in jail and discussed both Montgomery’s murder and the $5,000 payment. That phone conversation was recorded.

In the days following Montgomery’s death, Ellis made several bank deposits totaling $9,000. Norman also attempted to collect on his nephew’s life insurance policy but was denied due to a lack of documentation.

Prosecutors also claim Norman conspired with his insurance agent, Yaghnam, to fraudulently obtain the life insurance policy on Montgomery. In October 2014, the pair submitted three separate life insurance applications, each of them containing false information regarding Montgomery’s income, net worth, medical history, employment, and family background.

In the policy that was ultimately issued, Norman obtained a $200,000 policy with a $200,000 accidental death rider that would pay out if Montgomery died of anything besides natural causes, and a $50,000 10-year term rider that would pay out if Montgomery died within a decade of the policy being approved.

In late August, Norman and Ellis were arrested and charged with murder-for-hire conspiracy. That same week, Norman and Yaghnam were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

If convicted on the conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire or the murder-for-hire charges, Norman, Ellis, and Hill could face life in prison or the death penalty.

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