The identity of the primary witness against a York businessman accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife's boyfriend remains a mystery, despite the fact he testified extensively in court.
Called only "Informant 1," the man testified Friday at a preliminary hearing that defendant Gregory Allen Hess agreed to pay him between $30,000 and $50,000 to kill his rival and also claimed Hess wanted his wife killed sometime later, although a state police trooper who also took the stand never mentioned a hit on the wife.
Defense attorney Farley Holt maintains Hess never wanted his wife killed and that while there may have been an agreement between Hess and the informant, it wasn't for a murder.
After the hearing, chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday declined to explain why he protected the informant's identity.
'Cloak of secrecy': James Swetz, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, called the move "an unusual circumstance."
"I've been practicing law almost 40 years," he said. "I've never heard of a situation where, in a public proceeding, someone actually testified and there was some kind of cloak of secrecy regarding the identify of the person testifying against the defendant."
But Swetz also noted the issue is moot, since the prosecution revealed the informant's name to the defense immediately after the hearing, a fact confirmed by Holt.
"They did not want to release the informant's name during the hearing, with the understanding his name would be given to me afterward," Holt said. "They said they didn't want his name plastered all over the press."
Holt said he agreed to the deal and was provided with the informant's name. Holt declined to release the name, saying he needed to honor the agreement he made with Sunday.
Holt also said he suspects the informant is trying to "work off" drug charges, either for himself or someone close to him.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.