A jury Friday evening recommended an 81-year prison sentence for a former police officer convicted of trying to hire a hitman while in jail on other charges.

Cassie C. Crisano, 39, was found guilty of three counts of attempted capital murder and three counts of soliciting capital murder. She was acquitted of three conspiracy charges.

The jury deliberated nearly six hours Friday, the fourth day of Crisano’s trial, before reaching a verdict. The jurors then deliberated a couple more hours before agreeing to a sentence that includes a $150,000 fine.

The 81 years suggested by the jury was six years above the minimum amount the convictions called for. Crisano will be formally sentenced on Nov. 8; Judge Victoria Willis could reduce Crisano’s sentence but cannot give more than the jury suggested.

Crisano, a former officer with the Prince Georges County, Md., Police Department, cried after the guilty pleas were announced, then repeatedly called prosecutor George Elsasser a “liar” as Elsasser argued for a life sentence. She became especially emotional when Elsasser pointed out that she enlisted her teenage son in her scheme.

Crisano was convicted of trying to arrange hits on Stafford Detective Joseph Massine and two other people, a former friend and the father of her youngest child. The friend, Terry Linton, alerted police to fraud involving he and Crisano after Linton was arrested in Frederick County for trying to solicit a minor online.

Prosecutors Philip Chichester and Elsasser spent much of the week presenting telephone conversations and letters that showed Crisano’s desire to have witnesses against her killed.

She repeatedly referred to “trees,” which prosecution witnesses said was a code word for the people she wanted dead.

Police planted an informant in Crisano’s cell after getting word about her intentions. The plant, Jody Byies, wore a wire and introduced Crisano to someone Byies claimed would carry out the hits.

The phony hitman was actually Detective R. Mervil, who had multiple telephone conversations with Crisano during the sting. Crisano also sent letters to a post office box monitored by Stafford Detective S.M. Monaghan and sent a total of $5,800 to the post office box that prosecutors said was money to pay the hitman.

Crisano Thursday testified that she had no intentions of killing anyone. She said that while some of her statements sounded bad, many of the statements were taken out of context or were simply jailhouse banter.

Defense attorney Alexander Raymond attacked the credibility of Byies in his closing argument. Once the verdicts were in, Raymond argued that the minimum sentence of 75 years was “more than enough.”

Crisano still has two more trials scheduled in Stafford Circuit Court on a number of other charges. One trial would feature allegations of insurance fraud and other offenses that came to light after Linton turned on her back in 2017.

If convicted only on the initial charges, lawyers said this week, Crisano most likely would have received either a short or totally suspended sentence.

But after her first arrest, Crisano allegedly hatched a plan to burn down the Stafford Public Safety Building and made contact with a phony hitman.

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Keith Epps: 540/374-5404


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