UPDATE (Sept. 12, 2019) — Tisha Raines entered into a plea agreement and was sentenced to 115 months (9.5 years) in prison plus 3 years of supervised release.
SPRINGPORT, Ind.– An Indiana woman is facing charges after federal authorities say she tried to hire a “hit man” to murder someone she thought had scammed her.
The FBI investigation began in May when the Henry County Sheriff’s office contacted them with information about an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
Investigators say Tisha Dawn Raines, 45, of Springport, attempted to hire a hit man to murder someone out of the state. The person who provided information about the alleged plot to authorities knew Raines for years and stated she had recently been released from jail after serving time for a drug offense.
Raines also allegedly asked the informant to help her find a hit man to murder “an individual she believed defrauded her of money,” according to court documents.
Authorities say she offered to pay $5,000 for the murder. The person told her he’d get back to her and contacted police.
Police then set up a meeting with Raines on May 17 where she expected to meet the hit man, who was actually an undercover FBI agent. The meeting was recorded by a surveillance team.
Court documents show she told the FBI agent about a man who “took a bunch of money” from her who was in the military and may be deployed. She provided a name and then got her phone, which had more information about the man.
Raines showed a photo of the man to the agent, who noticed the name on a placard was slightly different than the name she provided.
When discussing the cost, police say Raines told the agent she would have trouble raising the $5,000 but she would “get it done in time.” The undercover agent said he’d need something to get started if he was going to “take that risk.”
As a down payment, Raines allegedly handed over a baggie of suspected methamphetamine. Court documents show Raines said she wanted the man dead “so bad” and offered to get more meth.
The surveillance team followed her to a Raintree Inn in New Castle. About 35 minutes later, she allegedly returned to the meeting spot and provided the agent with more drugs. The total amount later weighed out to 27.7 grams.
Before the meeting ended, court documents show the agent asked her, “We got an understanding, right? And this dude is going to end up dead?”
“OK,” Raines allegedly replied.
The two remained in contact over the next few weeks through text messages. Meanwhile, investigators looked into the photo she provided.
On May 23, the agent told her, “I found your package. Will be calling you about the work details.”
Raines indicated she was having money issues, and the two agreed she could make additional payments with drugs.
Investigators were able to identify him and after speaking to him in California, discovered the man did not actually scam her. Instead, authorities say the his identity was stolen and used to scam her.
He informed authorities he had been contacted by more than 100 victims of “soft heart” scams. The man became aware of the issue and 2016 and reported it. He said he did not recognize Raines, and agreed to help in staging photos of his murder.
The staged photos were sent to Raines on Aug. 8. It appeared that he was killed via gunshot in the desert. Court documents show she responded, “Don’t know who that is,” and there was no further conversation.
A charge of murder for hire was filed against Raines on Aug. 14 by federal prosecutors. She was ordered to remain in custody until her trial due to the weight of the evidence, prior criminal history and a failure to appear in court.