Denise Marie Nagrodski, 52, of Easton, Pa., was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including 8 ½ years of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act, by Superior Court Judge Robert Reed in Warren County. She pleaded guilty on June 25 to an accusation charging her with the first-degree crimes of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Deputy Attorneys General Michael A. Klein and Brandy Malfitano prosecuted Nagrodski and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The charges were the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Counter Terrorism Bureau, the Division of Criminal Justice, the New York City Police Department Intelligence Division and the Pennsylvania State Police.
In pleading guilty, Nagrodski admitted that she conspired with an undercover detective of the New Jersey State Police – who she believed was prepared to act as a hit man for her – to have him kill her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, as well as the boyfriend’s sister and the sister’s boyfriend. She asked that the boyfriend be burned alive and that the other two intended victims be killed first and then burned. She told the detective that all three victims lived together in a residence in Somerset County, N.J. The attempted murder charge relates to the boyfriend, and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder relates to all three intended victims.
“If Nagrodski had succeeded in her gruesome plot, three people would have been murdered in horrific fashion,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “This investigation didn’t just serve justice – it saved lives.”
“Nagrodski’s vengeance knew no bounds,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Fortunately, this sentence ensures that her violent impulses will be bounded by prison bars for many years to come.”
“This is not the first murder-for-hire that a New Jersey State Police undercover detective foiled while posing as a hit man. These cases are always disturbing, but working cooperatively with our partner agencies, this grisly murder plot was stopped, and the woman responsible will now be spending a long time behind bars,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
NYPD Intelligence alerted the New Jersey State Police in October 2014 that Nagrodski wanted to hire a hit man. A member of the State Police Violent Organized Crime Control South Bureau posed as a hit man, and on Nov. 21, Nagrodski met him at the Phillipsburg Mall in Lopatcong, N.J., to outline how she wanted him to kill all three victims. Regarding her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, she told the detective to “burn him alive” and make sure he knew she was responsible. She asked that the boyfriend’s sister and the sister’s boyfriend each be shot twice in the forehead, “one for each twin” miscarried by her daughter. Ultimately, she agreed that the purported hit man should instead “bash in” the heads of those two victims and set their house on fire, because she could not provide him with a gun. She paid the detective $500. Before she left, he said, “Once you step out of the car, this is on.” She replied, “I need it done.”
Nagrodski was arrested about 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2014 on Route 22 as she drove away from a second meeting with the undercover detective at the Phillipsburg Mall. At the second meeting, Nagrodski provided the detective with photos of the intended victims, drew him a map to the house where she believed all of the victims lived, and paid him $500, which was the balance of the $1,000 she had agreed to pay him. Both meetings were secretly recorded. Nagrodski was held in the Warren County Jail following her arrest with bail set at $2 million.
The investigation was led by Detective Gerard Tibbs of the New Jersey State Police Counter Terrorism Bureau. Deputy Attorneys General Klein and Malfitano prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, who is Deputy Bureau Chief, and Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, who is Bureau Chief.