‘The train thing is good’: Feds put man on trial for allegedly hiring hit man to kill wife’s uncle

Venkatesh Bhogireddy faces six counts revolving around his alleged plot to have his wife’s uncle murdered for $8,000. But the hit man turned out to be an undercover ATF agent.

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse

Sun-Times Media

Federal prosecutors say a Chicago man caught up in a contentious divorce met someone he believed to be a hit man in a Joliet restaurant in the fall of 2019, handed him $2,000 and told him he wanted the job done — and made to look like an accident.

The purported hit man told Venkatesh Bhogireddy he was thinking of pushing their target in front of a subway train. Bhogireddy then began to walk back to his car. But he returned a short time later, and he allegedly said, “The train thing is good.”

The feds say he even made a motion, as if pushing someone.

Now Bhogireddy is on trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, charged with six counts revolving around his alleged plot to have his wife’s uncle murdered for $8,000 by someone he thought was a hit man — but who turned out to be an undercover ATF agent. Prosecutors have also alleged that Bhogireddy wanted his wife killed at a later time.

Bhogireddy’s defense attorney, Gal Pissetzky, denied to jurors Wednesday that Bhogireddy meant to have anyone killed. He said Bhogireddy needed to vent and “get his aggravations out” about his divorce. And he said Bhogireddy’s English is “not the greatest,” so things sometimes don’t come out the way he means them.

The trial is taking place on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, amid the same coronavirus protocols the court implemented when jury trials first resumed last August.

Prosecutors say Bhogireddy reached out to an acquaintance in May 2019 looking for someone who could “take care of a problem” for him for money. That person called law enforcement, who gave him a number for the undercover ATF agent to give to Bhogireddy.

Bhogireddy called the ATF agent June 4, 2019, according to a 21-page criminal complaint filed in October 2019. Bhogireddy allegedly confirmed for the agent that he wanted a “quote,” and they agreed to meet two days later in Joliet. The men wound up talking in a warehouse, where Bhogireddy allegedly explained he was having problems with his wife.

Bhogireddy allegedly said his wife was acting “crazy” and had accused him in court of doing things to their children. Though Bhogireddy said he wanted “her” taken care of, he said he thought he’d be the suspect if something happened to her, adding, “I cannot look guilty.”

Rather, he said his wife’s uncle, who lived in New Jersey, was behind the accusations his wife had made.

When the agent asked Bhogireddy whether he wanted the uncle hurt or killed, Bhogireddy allegedly said any injuries to the uncle should put him in a “coma.” Bhogireddy also allegedly made a chopping motion with his hand to the back of his neck.

Bhogireddy agreed to pay the agent $8,000, the feds say.

“Plan, take your time,” Bhogireddy allegedly said. “Plan, plan, plan, take your time, plan, plan, plan, no rush.”

The men had other meetings, and Bhogireddy allegedly gave the uncle’s address to the agent, who then traveled to New Jersey to study the uncle’s movements.

Then, in October 2019, the men met again at La Mex restaurant in Joliet. When Bhogireddy arrived, the feds say he immediately handed the agent a wad of cash and said “that’s two grand.” Bhogireddy told the agent he wanted it done, and made to look like an accident.

“Like, accident dead?” the agent asked. Bhogireddy allegedly replied, “Yeah, yeah … Even if he wasn’t dead, even crushed, good enough.”

The agent told him, “but he’s probably gonna be dead.”

And Bhogireddy allegedly said, “That’s OK.”

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