A Contra Costa County jail inmate added 10 counts to a 50-charge indictment after he allegedly tried to order the killings of witnesses set to testify against him, the district attorney's office said Friday.
A grand jury voted Oct. 15 to indict Pittsburg resident Charles Waldo, 37, with nine counts of solicitation to commit murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
The indictment alleges that Waldo conspired with other inmates to arrange the killing of nine different witnesses who were set to testify against him at an upcoming trial, District Attorney Mark Peterson said.
"Protecting witnesses and victims is central to maintaining the integrity of the criminal justice system," Peterson said in a statement. Waldo was initially arrested on Jan. 30, 2013 and indicted Sept. 13, 2013 on 50 counts relating to auto insurance fraud, arson, vandalism, embezzlement, felony possession of a firearm, and a high-speed chase through Contra Costa County, according to the district attorney's office.
The new allegations of attempted assassination came to light after a witness alerted the District Attorney's office to a "hit" that had been put out on him. Peterson said investigators located a "hit list" that included nine names, the order in which they were to be killed, and suggested methods by which the murders were to occur. The methods included staged car accidents, drug overdoses, and robberies that had "gone bad," Peterson said.
The district attorney's investigation into Waldo began in the spring of 2012 when its office received information about a vehicle arson and a suspected fraudulent car insurance claim, Deputy District Attorney William Murphy said. The investigation revealed multiple fraudulent insurance claims of arson and vandalism on five cars over a five-year period beginning in July 2007 with losses from the vehicles exceeding $100,000, Peterson said.
Further investigation revealed Waldo was suspected of embezzling over $100,000 from a former employer and stealing a $38,000 generator from his former employer's business.
As the manager, Waldo reportedly "forced out" other employees so he could hire his associates, and then directed the new employees to commit other crimes, including stealing recyclable metals and an electrical transformer, prosecutors said. At one point, Waldo was traveling with employees from the business when a police officer attempted to pull him over for speeding. Waldo escaped after traveling at speeds of over 100 miles per hour, Murphy said.
He also allegedly ordered the workers to help build a 2,000-square-foot addition to his Pittsburg home while they were supposed to be working for Waldo's employer. Investigators from the California Department of Insurance allege that he committed worker's compensation insurance fraud, along with tax code violations.
After his employer fired him, Waldo allegedly drove to his employer's business, and to the homes of several employees, and punctured the tires of their cars. He also continued to claim unemployment benefits for a year even though he had found other employment, according to Peterson.
The defendant was to be arraigned on the new charges Friday. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in jail, Peterson said.