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April 12, 2013

Roseville man pleads no contest to hiring hit man to kill wife

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

MOUNT CLEMENS — A Roseville man could face a minimum of 72 months in jail
when he is sentenced for solicitation of murder in Macomb County Circuit Court next month.

Neither admitting nor denying guilt, 69-year-old Charles Tringali agreed to a conditional no-contest plea through a Cobbs agreement. The agreement was reached between Tringali, defense attorney Steven Freers and Judge Peter Maceroni.

Under the agreement, Tringali can withdraw his plea if Maceroni sentences him to a minimum jail time greater than the agreed-upon 72 months.

“With our agreement, if the judge sentences him to a minimum of 72 months, we can’t withdraw, but if he sentences him to a minimum of 100 months, we can withdraw,” Freers said.

But in a twist from the norm, Freers was also given the ability to argue for a lower sentence. While the case against him was pretty clear-cut — police wires captured him soliciting and paying an undercover officer to kill his wife — the intent behind it wasn’t.

Tringali was arrested Oct. 16, 2012, after a one-time meeting with the undercover officer who was posing as a hit man.

“An individual came to us that morning and told us that someone wanted to have their wife killed and was looking to do it very soon,” said Roseville Police Chief James Berlin. “He was very eager to find someone to get the job done very quickly, so we had to act quickly.”

Tringali’s wife was due to arrive home that day on a one-day pass from the convalescent center where she lives. She’d have to return to the center the following day.

“He wanted it done very, very quickly, that night,” Berlin said. “We had to act on it immediately so he wouldn’t solicit someone else who was not a police officer and would actually carry it out.”

The undercover officer, a 20-year veteran of the Roseville Police Department with 13 years of experience as a detective in the special investigations unit, met with Tringali that afternoon. He wore a recorder and wire, which recorded the conversation and transmitted it to an awaiting team of officers. When he knew he had all he needed, the officer signaled and Tringali was arrested on the spot.

Court records did not reveal the length of the conversation, but testimony by the officer revealed a lengthy conversation in which time, location, payment and various methods of death were discussed. Tringali never revealed a specific reason why he wanted to have his wife killed, and the officer testified that Tringali displayed conflicting statements and behaviors.

“I made a reference to the severity, ‘You know, it’s not like killing a dog; you know, you do this and there is no turning back.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah.’ He made a reference that it was a mercy killing — originally, in the first course of our conversation, and then as it progressed, I found him very cold and calculating,” the officer testified during a preliminary exam in 39th District Court March 1.

In another instance, the officer spoke about the various methods Tringali brought up for carrying out the murder.

“He actually versed me on where a pacemaker was located on the body and that, if I use a strong enough magnet, it would disrupt the heartbeat and kill the person, and it would appear as a heart attack. … Inject air into an artery, that would cause death. … One method was, you know, use a pillow over her head and suffocate her, but Mr. Tringali advised me that that would be too painful for her, plus the suffocation causing discoloration to the eyes.”

The officer also testified to asking Tringali multiple times if he really wanted to go through with it.

“He wanted me to go through with it,” the officer testified. “I believe I offered him three or four times, ‘You know, you sure you want this done — this is a serious matter,’ and each time, he stated he did.”

In undercover investigations, the case relies on obtaining proof that the suspect is not being swayed to commit the crime.

“We have to be very careful about entrapment,” Berlin said. “We have to make sure this is his idea, make sure that this is what he wants and is asking for and we aren’t leading him down that road.”

Freers, who says his client is wheelchair-bound and not a threat to society, plans to argue for a lower sentence.

“It was my position that the conduct was not predatory,” Freers said. “The Prosecutor’s Office was leaning toward predatory conduct in the sentencing guidelines, but they weren’t sure, so I was given the ability to argue it, and I recently filed a memorandum to the court as to why it was not predatory, and we will see what the judge does at sentencing.”

Tringali’s sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 20 in the courtroom of Judge Peter Maceroni at Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

 

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.