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ST. LOUIS – Timothy Norman, convicted in a 2016 murder-for-hire plot against his own nephew, has been sentenced to life in federal prison.

A federal jury convicted James Timothy “Tim” Norman last year on two counts of federal murder-for-hire and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in the case.

Norman is the son of Robbie Montgomery, who founded Sweetie Pie’s in 1996. The restaurant and Montgomery family were the subjects of a reality show produced by Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network called, “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s.”

Federal prosecutors said Norman, a co-owner of Sweetie Pie’s soul food restaurants in the St. Louis area, took out a $450,000 life insurance policy in 2015 on his nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr., with Norman named as the sole beneficiary. Montgomery was fatally shot in March 2016, and phone records cited in court assert that Norman arranged his death.

Last week, Norman shared the following message via Instagram, claiming he was innocent:

“Thank you for all the prayers. I’m still in disbelief. The feds know 100% I did not do those insurance policies. But the jury didn’t hear that. And not one person got on the stand and said that I told them to hurt my nephew. They destroyed my name and image so you guys wouldn’t search for the truth.”

Norman is the last of four people to be sentenced in the conspiracy over Montgomery’s murder.

Travell Hill, the convicted trigger man, and Terica Ellis, an exotic dancer convicted of setting Andre up and tipping off Norman and others about Andre’s location prior to the murder, both testified in September on events leading up to Andre’s death. Based on testimony and evidence in court, the prosecution proved Norman met with Hill, weeks before the murder and agreed to pay him $5,000.

Phone records provided insight into a conflicting claim Norman made about where he was when Andre was killed. During a conversation cited in court with insurance agent Waiel Yaghnam in 2018, Norman said he was in California, not St. Louis, at the time of Andre’s death. Cell phone towers tracked the general location of a prepaid phone assigned to Norman in the area around Lambert Airport during the timeframe Andre was fatally shot.

Phone records also reveal extensive communication with Ellis and Hill throughout the day before Andre died. Prosecutors also cited a chilling text months before his death in which Norman said his nephew “ain’t gonna be around much longer.”

In federal court, Ellis testified that Norman told her his nephew had stolen money and jewelry from his mother’s house and he wanted to get her belongings back. She accepted a $10,000 offer to help find Andre, though says she was not expecting Andre to be harmed in the process of meeting him.

“Tim Norman sought to make $450,000 by having his nephew, Andre Montgomery, killed. Instead, he was caught and will spend the rest of his life in prison. Although Andre’s family was robbed of their loved one, hopefully this result will provide some measure of peace and justice for them,” said U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming.

“Tim Norman portrayed one image to the public, but there were more sinister intentions lurking underneath,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Angie Danis during Thursday’s sentencing hearing.  “And the measure of someone’s character is what they do when they think no one is watching.  When he thought no one was watching, he planned the execution of his nephew and carried it out.”

Waiel Yaghnam, Norman’s insurance agent, pled guilty last summer to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Hill was sentenced to 32 years in prison, while Ellis was sentenced to three years in prison.