Man charged in alleged murder plot targeting ex-prosecutor

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A man has been charged in an alleged murder-for-hire plot against a former Pennsylvania prosecutor that involved two current or former prison inmates authorities said.

Dana Elroy Smith, 56, of State College, faces charges in Luzerne County of criminal solicitation of criminal homicide and criminal conspiracy, state police said.

Police allege that information including the victim's description and home address was sent to potential “hit men." Investigators also allege that “large money transfers" were found from Smith through an intermediary to a state prison inmate “involved with the execution of the plot."

Smith was arrested Friday following an undercover operation in which police allege he made a “money drop" to the purported hit-man. Charges were filed in Luzerne County because “a significant step in the furtherance of the murder conspiracy" occurred there, police said. No details were provided.

Court records indicate that Smith was charged in Centre County in 2009 with felony counts of witness or victim intimidation in giving false or misleading testimony and withholding information. He was convicted in a jury trial and sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in prison. In 2011, he was charged with harassment and was again convicted and sentenced to 60 days.

Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis told The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice that the former prosecutor targeted in the alleged plot was the prosecutor in both of Smith's cases.

Philadelphia police and state prison and parole board officials were involved in the investigation along with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, police said.

“Due to the diligence of our investigators and with the assistance provided by our partners, a potential tragedy was averted, and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions," said Maj. Douglas Burig, director of the state police bureau of criminal investigation.

Special agent-in-charge Donald Robinson of the ATF Philadephia field division said investigators and criminal intelligence analysts “prevented a potential homicide from occurring and a family from grieving a tragic loss at the holidays."

Court documents don't list a defense attorney for Smith; a message was left at a number listed for that name.