Prison for millionaire Stamford businessman after murder-for-hire plot
STAMFORD — Three years after being found guilty by a Stamford jury of hiring one of his workers to kill the Greenwich boyfriend of his estranged wife, city millionaire businessman Miguel Juarez has used up every legal avenue to overturn his conviction and will be sent to prison next month..
The state Supreme Court has just issued an order denying Juarez’s petition to review the Appellate Court decision in his case and as a result Juarez, 58, will be sent to prison for eight years on April 22.
“We are disappointed with the result. We have exhausted all avenues of appeal and the sentence will commence in April,” said attorney Robert Bello. “It is difficult for my client but he has accepted the final decision and he understands there is no appeal from the final decision by the supreme court.”
Bello said Judge Richard Comerford has allowed Juarez a month’s time to get his affairs in order before he has to turn himself over to the commissioner of corrections and be admitted into the prison system.
On Feb. 25, 2016 Juarez was sentenced to 20 years with his sentence to be suspended after spending eight years in prison. He is then required to go on probation for five years, during which time he could be made to serve all or part of his 12-year suspended sentence if he violates his probation.
But the sentence was suspended pending an appeal to the state’s Appellate Court, which upheld the conviction reached at the Stamford trial presided over by Comerford. Bello and attorney Martin Minella then filed a petition with the Supreme Court for certification for review of that decision, which has just been denied.
Juarez, a millionaire businessman who employs more than 120 people in his five businesses around Stamford, fled his native Guatemala after his father was murdered and came to Stamford while in his 20s. He was facing up to 40 years in jail after being convicted by a jury in April 2015 of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder. Juarez owns MJM Stamford Landscaping, MJM Stamford Hardware and MJM Stone Supply.
Bello and Minnella argued that the state’s star witness in the case, former Juarez employee German Zecena, was so untrustworthy that a jury could not have reasonably believed his testimony and the verdict should be set aside. But Comerford remained unconvinced and ruled that the jury would have the final word in the matter.
Zecena, who ended up spending four years in prison until he was released after testifying in the weeklong trial, was arrested in June 2010 after police learned he was looking for a hitman on behalf of Juarez. Stamford police steered Zecena to an undercover Greenwich police officer who pretended to be someone who promised he could make the hit.
Zecena said he would give the undercover officer $6,000 to kill William Forte and gave him an $80 downpayment along with a dagger to do the job, after showing him Forte’s Greenwich home, according to testimony in the case. Police learned that Forte was dating Juarez’s wife, Orfilda. Facing the same charges as Juarez, Zecena turned state’s evidence and told police Juarez ordered him to tail his wife for months and to find someone to kill her lover.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney James Bernardi told Comerford that Juarez was driven by a jealous obsession that “is old as the Bible and as old as the story of Cain and Abel.” Bernardi said if the Stamford police had not acted so quickly, Forte would have been killed.
Bernardi also said Orfilda Juarez was the second victim in this case, because if the plan had gone through, she would have been “forever terrorized,” by her husband. The two have since divorced.
Comerford also noted that Zecena spent four years in prison because of Juarez’s actions.
Bernardi, who has since retired, could not be reached for comment in the case.