The events leading to the murder-for-hire arrest of area businessman Gregory Allen Hess read like an episode of a true-crime television series.

Police told the would-be victim, an acquaintance of Hess' wife, that there was a contract out on his life. The man then played along in a police-orchestrated ruse last week that included him being tied up and placed in the trunk of a vehicle, said state police Lt. Adam Kosheba.

A picture was taken of the bound would-be target, and a confidential police informant whom Hess had allegedly hired for the murder showed the photo to Hess to prove the job had been done, Kosheba said Monday.

According to police, Hess and the informant met in the parking lot of a Denny's restaurant along Route 30 in York City on Friday so Hess could give the pseudo-murderer a $1,900 cash bonus. Kosheba said Hess paid $30,000 for the homicide; the bonus was for completion of the murder by Friday.

And that's when police arrested 46-year-old Hess, of 1950 Hoff Road in North Codorus Township, who had arrived in a company vehicle labeled "Keystone Restoration" on the side, police said.

Hess is the president of Keystone Restorations & Builders Inc., at 205 Shady Lane, Suite 100 in Manchester Township, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

'Red-handed' arrest: Police declined to name the target or the York County Drug Task Force informant who had been contracted in the plot. They declined to posit a motive or to characterize the nature of the relationship between Hess' wife and the intended victim.

Kosheba declined to say whether the would-be hit was drug-related, saying only that the task force became involved because the informant who was contracted had been working with the multi-jurisdictional task force.

The informant's tip set into motion a ruse and sting involving the participation of several York County police departments and culminating in Friday's "red-handed" arrest, said York County District Attorney Tom Kearney.

Kosheba said Hess didn't specify a mode of murder, telling the informant to "just take care of it."

The intended target was told of the plan and was "secured in a facility" while the ruse played out, Kosheba said. He declined to say where the intended victim lives or where the murder was to take place.

Hess' preliminary hearing, currently scheduled for May 9, should be "enlightening," Kearney said.

The charges: Hess is charged with solicitation to commit murder and criminal use of a communication facility, documents state.

He was denied bail when he was arraigned on the charges, according to the York County Sheriff's Office.

According to charging documents, the informant contacted state police Trooper Shawn Wolfe about the plot on Thursday.

The informant told the trooper that Hess gave him or her photographs of the target as well as photographs of the target's home, documents state.

Documents also allege that Hess "wanted proof when the job was finished" and offered the "bonus" if the target was killed by Friday.

Police found a loaded .32-caliber handgun on the floor of the backseat of Hess' company vehicle, documents say.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.