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September 18, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Offer to fix Orange County business owner’s ‘problem’ lands parolee in jail for extortion

Martin Hodge, a former employee of a New Windsor truck dealership, met with a company official on Oct. 24 and offered to fix a problem.

The businessman’s brother had supposedly cheated Albanian mobsters out of $60,000, according to a transcript of the conversation. Hodge presented a solution.

“I also do something else that I try to keep under the wraps. It’s called independent contracting work. You got problems, I take care of them,” he said.

Hodge’s conversations with the businessman were recorded, and on Oct. 30 he was arrested on the basis of a criminal complaint that alleges extortion for attempting to obtain money “from a small business owner by using threats of physical violence against the victim and his family.”

The businessman is not named in the complaint and the company is identified only as a full-service international dealer of trucks, tractors and chassis in New Windsor, Orange County.

The criminal complaint does not say when Hodge worked for the truck dealership or in what capacity, but there were two periods in his life when he was not available for work.

Martin Hodge, 54, was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his landlord in 1985, after he was evicted for not paying rent on a basement apartment on Pelham Avenue in the Bronx.

He was convicted and sentenced to prison for 25 years to life.

He was paroled in 2014 after 28 years of incarceration with the help of a Bronx prosecutor, according to a New York Post story, and over the objections of the assistant district attorney who convicted him.

Christine Scaccia, a Bronx assistant district attorney, argued that Hodge was intelligent and well-spoken, the Post reported, and he had cooperated while behind bars in several cold-case homicides.

The original prosecutor, William Flack, argued that Hodge was still dangerous and deceitful.

Hodge was released in January 2014. But this past April he was returned to the prison system, according to Thomas Mailey, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, for violating the conditions of parole.

He was sentenced to the Willard Drug Treatment Campus in Seneca County, for a 90-day therapy program. He was released on July 24, and he was living in Orange County.

When Hodge met the businessman at the company’s office on Oct. 24, the businessman recorded the conversation.

In a transcript liberally laced with expletives, as quoted in the criminal complaint, Hodge said Albanians were looking to put out a $100,000 contract against the businessman’s family, “to make everybody suffer because they know you don’t have money.”

“Them f—ing Albanians … will go after your f—ing kids, and they will go after your f—ing wife, and they will go after your f—ing father and make people you people f—ing bleed until they get their money,” Hodge is quoted in the complaint.

And if the businessman went to the cops, “two years, three years down the road when you least expect it, they’ll come.”

Hodge, according to the complaint, claimed he worked for two people connected with the mob.

“I’m a phantom in the wind,” the complaint quotes him. “I pop up and I leave. I’ll break the guys’ legs. I’ll put them in the f—ing hospital.”

He boasted that he had done things “you couldn’t even wrap your mind around,” the complaint states, “and I don’t get caught.”

For $60,000, the businessman asked, would the problem be gone?

“It’ll be gone,” Hodge replied.

They met again on Oct. 26, and this time agents for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were listening and recording.

Was the businessman wearing a wire? Hodge asked. He ordered the businessman to lift up his shirt. Then, according to the complaint, Hodge ordered the businessman to turn off his phone and accompany him to his car.

There, the complaint states, Hodge, told the businessman to write a letter stating that he was paying for past services. He proposed four payments, totaling $60,250.

They met again Oct. 29 at the company office. Hodge had prepared his own letter and asked the businessman to sign it.

“I fully agree to pay Martin Hodge for past work done, and future work for myself and my company,” the letter states. “At no time did I agree to pay Martin Hodge the money I am agreeing to under duress, intimidation, threats or by extortion. I am doing so under my own free will and out of the kindness of my heart to help him.”

The businessman signed and then handed over the letter that Hodge had asked him to write.

“This letter will confirm that [the company] has agreed to pay to you the sum of $60,250 for various truck repairs, autobody and detailing services you previously rendered.”

The following day, the businessman gave Hodge a company check for $15,062.50, as first payment, the complaint states.

“Hodge then told the victim that the victim’s problem has gone away,” the complaint states, “because Hodge took care of it the prior day.”

Hodge was arrested and brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy for his initial appearance. He was represented by public defender Rachel Martin.

Hodge now resides, according to the parole office, in the Westchester County Jail.