Man Charged With Killing Associates, Accomplices In Illegal Business Deals
HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) _ A man was arrested Wednesday on charges of murdering five people, three of them drug or pornography dealers, and police said he bragged of spreading cyanide on one victim’s hamburger and kept another’s body frozen for two years.
″He would set up business deals and when the people arrived with their side of the deal, with their part of the bargain, he would kill them,″ said state Attorney General W. Cary Edwards.
Richard Kuklinski, 51, was ordered held in lieu of $2 million bail.
Three of the victims were described as drug or pornography dealers, and the other two were accomplices of the killer, authorities said.
Kuklinski met an undercover federal agent Wednesday morning at a highway rest stop to get cyanide for the murder of a fictitious cocaine dealer that they had agreed to commit later in the day, said authorities involved in the undercover investigation dubbed ″Operation Iceman.″ The two had met frequently over the past six weeks, with the agent wearing a concealed microphone, authorities said.
Kuklinski was told the victim would be carrying about $85,000, said John Hagerty, spokesman for Edwards.
He was arrested two hours later at a roadblock set up a block from his home in well-to-do Dumont. A gun was found in his car and his wife was charged with a disorderly persons offense for trying to prevent the arrest, Edwards said.
The arrest followed a six-year investigation into murders which occurred from 1980 to 1983, said state Deputy Attorney General Robert J. Carroll.
Superior Court Judge Peter Ciolino ordered Kuklinski to surrender his passport after Carroll said he had large sums of money in Swiss bank accounts and had a reservation on a flight to that country.
His attorney, Frank Lucianna, said he would appeal the bail but did not speak to the allegations.
Kuklinski is charged with five counts of murder, six illegal weapons violations, three counts of robbery and one count each of attempted murder and attempted robbery, authorities said.
The first victim, George Malliband of Huntingdon, Pa., was killed Jan. 31, 1980, after he met with Kuklinski to sell videotapes, Carroll told the judge.
Malliband, whose body was found several days later stuffed in a barrel, had been carrying $27,000. He was shot numerous times.
Louis Masgay of Forty Fort, Pa., was last seen in July 1981 on his way to a videotape deal with Kuklinski, said Carroll. He had hidden $95,000 in a door panel of his van.
Fifteen months later, Masgay’s partially decomposed body was found in Orangetown, N.Y., shot in the head. Authorities said the body was wrapped in plastic bags and stored in a warehouse freezer.
Paul Hoffman of Cliffside Park was last seen in April 1982, on his way with $22,000 in cash to buy a prescription drug from Kuklinski, said Carroll. His body has not been found.
The other victims were Gary Smith, 42, whose body was found stuffed under a bed in a North Bergen motel, and Daniel Deppner, 46, his roommate, the prosecutor said.
Kuklinski told the undercover agent he spread cyanide on a hamburger Smith was eating and the victim then was strangled with a lamp cord by Deppner, said Carroll.
Deppner was later killed and his body, too decomposed to determine the cause of death, was found wrapped in plastic bags in a wooded area of West Milford, Carroll said.
Kuklinski first came to the attention of law officers four years ago when he was a suspect in a Jersey City car theft ring, Edwards said. During the undercover investigation, Kuklinski bragged to an agent about using cyanide for murders, the attorney general said.
″We’ve spent many hours watching his house with the state police,″ Dumont Police Chief William Groesbeck said, adding that Kuklinski, a Dumont resident for at least 10 years, was away from home for months at a time.
Kuklinski has been married for 25 years and the youngest of his children is in high school, said Carroll. The family’s telephone number is unlisted.