Man accused in murder-for-hire case demands new lawyer

Man accused in murder-for-hire case demands new lawyer

(Wasatch County Sheriff's Office)

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HEBER CITY — A Park City man accused of offering an undercover police officer $1,500 to kill his ex-wife's boyfriend wants a new public defender appointed to represent him.

In a letter filed in 4th District Court on June 20, Dustin Wade Ruffino informed Judge Steven Hansen that he no longer has confidence in his court-appointed attorney.

"I have been (in jail) since Jan. 14 and have only conferred with my attorney for 10 minutes and in the hallway or in the courtroom," Ruffino wrote. "Also, I have yet to receive discovery or hear all the evidence against me. I don't feel I can trust my attorney."

Ruffino, 45, is charged with criminal solicitation, a first-degree felony. The case against him began in early January when a Wasatch County sheriff's lieutenant — working undercover and with the assistance of a confidential informant — bought methamphetamine from Ruffino, according to charging documents.

During the transaction, the informant told the lieutenant that Ruffino wanted to hire someone to kill the man who was dating Ruffino's ex- wife. The informant introduced the undercover officer to Ruffino and told him "this is the guy who can do that other thing," the charges state.

"I said, What do you need?'" the lieutenant wrote, "to which (Ruffino) stated, 'This guy is (expletive) my wife. I don't like it and I want him dealt with.'"

When the lieutenant pressed Ruffino to define what "dealt with" meant, he said, "I want a final resolution, meaning I want him gone" and provided the undercover officer with the man's name, physical description and address, court records show.

I have been (in jail) since Jan. 14th and have only conferred with my attorney for 10 minutes and in the hallway or in the courtoom. Also, I have yet to receive discovery or hear all the evidence against me. I don't feel I can trust my attorney.

–Dustin Ruffino in letter to judge

"I explained that this would cost money, to which he said price wouldn't matter and that he would pay," the lieutenant wrote. "I told him that I would need to make arrangements. He asked what he needed to do, and I told him to do nothing and to lay low until we made contact again."

After the initial meeting, the lieutenant called a sergeant working for a sheriff's office on the Wasatch Front. The sergeant agreed to go undercover "as the potential hitman," according to court records.

The sergeant met with Ruffino in Salt Lake County on Jan. 13. Ruffino began their one-hour conversation by "passionately describing the situation" with his ex-wife, her boyfriend and himself, the sergeant wrote. When the sergeant asked how Ruffino wanted the situation resolved, Ruffino responded, "I want him gone," the charges state.

The sergeant then clarified that "gone" meant "dead" and asked whether the intended victim had family members who would be hurt by his death.

"(Ruffino) said that (the man) did have a family and that they would be affected, and that he, (Ruffino), didn't care and that he, (Ruffino), still wanted (the man) killed," court records state.

The sergeant told Ruffino the job would cost $1,500. Ruffino offered him $100 worth of tools as a down payment, the charges state. Ruffino then took the sergeant to the house where the intended victim lived before the men parted ways, according to court records.

Ruffino, who was ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing in March, has argued that police entrapped him. A check of court records Monday showed a formal motion arguing that claim has not been filed.

Ruffino is due in court Wednesday. He remains in the Wasatch County Jail, where he is being held without bail.


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Geoff Liesik


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