Arverne man accused of hiring hit man to kill main witness against him: DA

Queens DA Melinda Katz and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell say the sting operation against an Arverne man, who plotted to hire a hitman to kill a main witness against him, protected a fundamental pillar of the criminal justice system. (File photo by Dean Moses)

An Arverne man with a history of violence was indicted by a Queens grand jury for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill a main witness who was scheduled to testify against him in a pending assault prosecution, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Mark Douglas, 44, of Beach Channel Drive, was arraigned Thursday, Sept. 8, before Queens Supreme Court Justice Toni M. Cimino on a three-count indictment charging him with conspiracy, bribing a witness and tampering with a witness for plotting to kill a man who he allegedly severely wounded in a 2021 attack, who was set to be a witness against him.

According to the charges, prior intelligence gathering concerning the defendant revealed that during the winter of 2021-2022, Douglas put out the word that he wanted to kill the main witness scheduled to testify against him in an upcoming assault case. As part of the resulting investigation, members of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprise Bureau and Felony Trial Bureau worked with the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau to set up a sting operation.

Katz said that during the spring and summer of 2022, Douglas spoke several times on the phone with an undercover police officer posing as a hit man regarding his alleged plot to kill the witness against him. Last month, Douglas met with the undercover “hit man” in person and allegedly agreed to pay him $5,000 to kill the victim.

Prior to the conspiracy allegations, Douglas was arrested on May 25, 2021, and indicted by a Queens grand jury on assault and weapons charges; according to these charges, during the early morning hours of May 16, 2021, Douglas engaged his victim in a verbal dispute which seemingly ended when the victim left Douglas’ apartment. While outside the building, Douglas allegedly approached the victim from behind with a broken glass bottle and launched a vicious assault by striking his face with the broken bottle. The resulting injury required more than 100 stitches to the victim’s face when he was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

“As alleged, the defendant sought and contracted the death of an individual whom he had previously assaulted with a sharp object — an injury that required over 100 stitches,” Katz said. “These murder-for-hire allegations are an affront to the foundation of the criminal justice system and will not be tolerated. Ensuring the safety of those who come forward to report a crime is of the utmost importance. Thanks to a joint investigation by my office and the NYPD, the defendant has been indicted on new charges in connection to the alleged murder plot and will face justice in our courts.”

Justice Cimino remanded the defendant and ordered him to return to court on Sept. 28. If convicted, Douglas faces up to 25 years in prison.

“Our criminal justice system requires the safe and secure participation of all, and when that foundation of safety is threatened the response must be certain and swift,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “The defendant in this case demonstrated a pitiless, calculating disregard for human life — and today’s indictment reaffirms our commitment to hold violent criminals accountable for their actions. I commend and thank the Office of the Queens District Attorney, along with our NYPD investigators, for their outstanding work on this case.”