"It sounds like a James Bond movie," observes a post at WXYZ in Detroit. The comparison is apt: The story involves a doctor who allegedly aimed to have an attorney killed for revenge, with fentanyl as the weapon of choice and a meth addict as the alleged hitman. The Washington Post notes this might be the first time fentanyl has been connected in such a way to an alleged murder-for-hire plot. The details:
- The suspect: Daniel Schwarz, 56, is a doctor who runs pain clinics in Michigan and Ohio. The FBI says he tried to recruit one of his patients, a woman recovering from a meth addiction, to kill an attorney he had a vendetta against. Schwarz admits he wanted revenge but says he never intended to kill anyone.
- The target: Court documents lay out a plot against attorney Mike McCulloch, who represented a condo association involved in a legal dispute with Schwarz. The doctor lost a $60,000 judgment in the case, reports the Toledo Blade. McCulloch says he learned about the alleged plot in the wee hours Friday when federal agents came to his house. "One moment I’ll always remember—[it] is 4 o'clock in the morning, the FBI crawling under my car looking for a GPS tracker or some kind of suspicious device," he tells WXYZ.
- The plot: Authorities say Schwarz wanted the woman to kill McCulloch with a lethal dose of fentanyl, though the specifics of his alleged plan kept shifting (he allegedly mentioned a gun at one point). "They said she’d been groomed and recruited to carry out a hit on me," McCulloch said in court Wednesday. "[The fentanyl] would be stroked on my skin, and I would suffer death."
- The unraveling: The woman went to police when she became convinced that Schwarz was serious about the murder plot, authorities say. The police informed the FBI, who already had Schwarz on their radar over possible drug offenses, per the Post. The woman, who began wearing a wire, says Schwarz offered her $2,000 and told her to get a burner phone. Eventually, the doctor asked her to acquire fentanyl for him, allegedly telling her he couldn't access the necessary amount himself, say authorities. He was arrested after she delivered a fake package of the drug.
- Another victim: Schwarz also intended to plant fentanyl in the car of the attorney who represented him in the condo case, Robert Meisner, say authorities.
- Talking: Schwarz acknowledged to investigators that he fantasized about torturing and killing both attorneys as revenge, mentioning the infamous torture scene from Reservoir Dogs as inspiration. But he says the plot he talked about with the woman was just about planting drugs, not killing anyone, according to the criminal complaint.
- Charges: So far, Schwarz is charged with conspiracy and an attempt to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, but the Blade reports that more charges are expected. He is being held in the Lucas County Jail.
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