Inmate accused of hiring hitman to kill witness, cops

James Halpin, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·2 min read

Apr. 12—An inmate at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility plotted to hire a hitman to eliminate two Luzerne County detectives and a confidential informant who helped lock him up on drug-trafficking charges, police said.

William James Lynn III, 27, is facing murder solicitation charges alleging he agreed to pay $8,000 to have the informant killed in an effort to sabotage the pending drug case against him, police said.

According to court records, Luzerne County detectives arrested Lynn last October on drug-trafficking charges alleging he sold drugs to a confidential informant.

Last month, Lynn's cellmate wrote a letter to state police saying Lynn had been discussing hiring a hitman to kill the informant along with two detectives, Dan Mimnaugh and William Patton of the Luzerne County Drug Task Force, the charges allege.

The cellmate reported Lynn, a member of the Rolling 60s Crips street gang, had offered him $8,000 to have the informant killed, according to the complaint.

State police provided the cellmate with a post office box to pass along to Lynn where the purported hitman could be contacted. Police said they subsequently received a letter from Lynn saying he would pay to have the witness killed and suggesting a number of possible ways she could be murdered.

Troopers next provided Lynn with a cellphone where he could reach the purported hitman and began conversing with Lynn about a "landscaping job," which police said was an agreed upon code word for the hit.

Lynn eventually sent his girlfriend, Wilkes-Barre resident Samantha Loughney, to meet up with the purported hitman near the closed Kmart in Wilkes-Barre Twp.

Police said Loughney was detained after handing an envelope containing $2,500 in cash to an undercover trooper.

A search of her car turned up a .380-caliber Taurus pistol that had an obliterated serial number, police said.

Loughney told troopers Lynn had directed her to get the gun and bring the money, but that she believed the cash was intended to pay a private investigator to help with the drug case, according to the complaint.

Loughney, who is free on bail while awaiting trial on drug-trafficking charges, has not been charged in connection with the murder-for-hire plot.

During questioning, Lynn admitted writing the letter and said the gun was his, although he wouldn't disclose where he got it, police said.

Investigators charged Lynn with solicitation to commit murder, conspiring to commit murder, witness intimidation, criminal use of a communication facility and possessing instruments of crime.

Magisterial District Judge Thomas F. Malloy Sr. arraigned Lynn on the charges and denied bail, deeming him a danger to society.

A preliminary hearing was set for April 22.

Contact the writer: jhalpin@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2058