Daniel Dvorkin was so desperate to avoid paying an $8 million court judgment to a business rival that he tried to hire a hit man.
Now chronically ill , the 76-year-old surbubanite may die behind bars himself.
Dvorkin, of Lombard, was sentences Monday to eight years in federal prison for what U.S. District Judge Edmund Chang said was a “disturbing and chilling” plot to rub out Texan Larry Meyer.
The sentence was necessary, Chang said, to send a message that ill or elderly criminals won’t be let off easy and to discourage other businessmen from trying to settle their debts with murder.
Dvorkin — who had no prior convictions during a long and successful run in the real estate business — feared he would lose everything if he paid an $8 million judgment to Meyer after losing a civil court case in 2012, evidence at a jury trial last year showed.
He didn’t know he was being secretly taped by a tenant who he offered as much as $80,000 to have Meyer killed, then tried to silence once he realized he was under investigation.
And prosecutors said he “haggled over the price of a hit man as if he were negotiating the price of a car,” eventually bargaining the tenant down to $20,000.
On Monday, Chang said he was struck by how “calm and businesslike” the wealthy Dvorkin was during the creepy taped conversations.
Dvorkin gave a short, half-hearted apology, saying he “never had the intent to murder anyone.”
His lawyer Timothy Parlatore urged the judge to spare Dvorkin from any sentence of longer than 18 months, which he said would in effect be a life sentence. Dvorkin suffers from cancer and other serious health problems and had been so generous to his workers, friends and tenants that one even offered to serve Dvorkin’s time for him, he said.
But Chang rejected Dvorkin’s claims that he’d simply been “talking big,” pointing to evidence that Dvorkin had his staff research Meyer’s address and photo, which he later handed to the tenant, Robert Bevis, to deliver to a hit man.
Prosecutor Heather McShain said if Bevis hadn’t immediately gone to police and worked with the FBI to catch Dvorkin, “It could have led to the murder of Larry Meyer.”
“This boiled down to money,” McShain said.