A federal jury has convicted a Chicago man of trying to hire a hit man to kill two teens who were about to testify against his son in a murder trial.
Euripides “Caca” Caguana is set to be sentenced Sept. 16 after the jury found him guilty late Tuesday on all four murder-for-hire counts he’s faced since his arrest in October 2013, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Federal prosecutors last week played secret audio recordings of Caguana as his trial got underway.
“We’re gonna do it. We’re gonna do it,” Caguana told Jimmy Valentine on the recording.
“I’ve got a dude on standby,” replied Valentine, on the other end of the line.
But the “dude” Valentine was talking about was an undercover police officer. And Caguana was arrested after he met the would-be hit man. Valentine, who did plumbing work for Caguana and was briefly his neighbor in Ashburn on the Southwest Side, testified last week that he called police after Caguana shared the plan to kill the two teens.
Caguana gave him $500 to buy a gun and offered $7,000 more when the job was done, Valentine said. He also promised to buy Valentine’s son a Cadillac Escalade, Valentine added.
During a meeting at a restaurant near Addison and Pulaski in October 2013, Caguana said that he’d been studying the two teens’ movements and even produced maps and photos from the trunk of his car, Valentine said. One of the intended targets lived directly next door to Caguana in the 3700 block of West 81st Place.
Caguana’s defense attorney, Gerardo Gutierrez, argued his client was entrapped. Valentine was a regular informant for the Chicago Police Department, he said. Valentine testified that he regularly called a Chicago Police detective with tips about drugs and guns, and that he saw the detective as a father figure.
Gutierrez said that when Caguana called Valentine at the lowest point in his life, with his son’s life hanging in the balance, and spoke in extremes about the situation at hand, that Valentine opened the door for him to act, in essence saying, “You need to act on that. I got a guy.”
“The law does not permit police informants to trap someone,” Gutierrez said.
Caguana’s son, 21-year-old Travis Caguana, is locked up at Cook County Jail, awaiting trial on murder and weapons charges in the 2011 death of a 19-year-old man.
Contributing: Mitch Dudek