U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood ordered Venkatesh Bhogireddy taken into custody shortly after jurors convicted him on five of six counts.
A federal jury convicted a Chicago man Thursday of a chilling plot to pay a hit man $8,000 to murder his wife’s uncle amid a contentious divorce.
Venkatesh Bhogireddy spent the last week on trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, accused of trying to have the uncle murdered by someone he thought was a hit man — but who turned out to be an undercover ATF agent.
Bhogireddy even sent the undercover agent to New Jersey to conduct surveillance, and he told him to “plan, plan, plan.”
U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood ordered Bhogireddy taken into custody shortly after jurors convicted him on five of six counts. Before he was taken out of the courtroom, his lawyer asked the judge if Bhogireddy could hug his mother.
The judge gave Bhogireddy permission only to turn around and say goodbye. Bhogireddy turned and nodded.
Meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Julien told the judge that Bhogireddy faced a likely sentence of at least 17 years in prison.
Prosecutors offered jurors multiple audio and video recordings of Bhogireddy as he plotted with the person he knew as “Joe.” That person turned out to be ATF special agent Andrew Karceski, who testified about his various meetings with Bhogireddy, including in a Joliet warehouse.
Jurors could see Bhogireddy meeting with the agent in a room decorated with what appeared to be a picture of Al Pacino in the movie “Scarface.” A water bottle, beer can and Crown Royal bag could be seen on a desk in one meeting while music played in the background.
“I cannot look guilty,” Bhogireddy said in another meeting in June 2019.
Bhogireddy reached out to an acquaintance in May 2019 looking for someone who could “take care of a problem” for him for money, court records show. That person called law enforcement, and he was told to have Bhogireddy call Karceski.
The men first met at the warehouse in Joliet on June 6, 2019. That’s where Bhogireddy explained he’d been having problems with his wife. He said she had been acting “crazy” and accused him in court of doing things to their children. Bhogireddy said he suspected his wife’s uncle in New Jersey had been behind the accusations made by his wife.
When the agent asked Bhogireddy whether he wanted the uncle hurt or killed, Bhogireddy said any injury to the uncle should put him in a “coma.” He agreed to pay the agent $8,000, and he even sent Karceski to New Jersey for the purpose of studying the uncle’s movements.
The men finally met at La Mex restaurant in Joliet in October 2019. When Bhogireddy arrived, records show he immediately handed Karceski a wad of cash and said, “That’s two grand.” Bhogireddy said he wanted it “done” and made to look like an accident.
“Like accident dead?” Karceski asked.
Bhogireddy replied, “yeah, yeah.”
Karceski told Bhogireddy he’d been thinking about pushing the uncle in front of a subway train. Bhogireddy left the meeting but soon walked back to the table and said, “The train thing is good.”