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    Stamford Deli Owner Pleads Not Guilty in Murder-for-Hire Plot

    Stamford Deli Owner Pleads Not Guilty in Murder-for-Hire Plot

    The Stamford Advocate
    John Nickerson, 4/17/10

    STAMFORD — A Trumbull man pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of trying to hire a former Mexican gang member to kill his estranged wife.

    Thomas Christopher Esposito, 38, of 147 Governor Trumbull Way, appeared in state Superior Court in Stamford following his arrest last month on an attempt to commit murder by solicitation charge.

    Esposito is accused of asking a worker at his 80 Atlantic St. deli, Esposito’s Delicatessen, to kill his wife.

    The employee, however, did not reply to Esposito. Instead he told a relative of the wife that he believed the proposition was serious and that he feared for her safety, according to court records; the couple had been separated since May 2009 and were going through a divorce, yet they continued to work in the deli together, despite her claims he made repeated threats against her life.

    At Friday’s court hearing, Judge Gary White appointed an attorney to act as a guardian for the couple’s 4-year-old child.

    The move was made after Esposito’s lawyer, Mark Sherman, filed a motion to amend the court’s order prohibiting any contact between Esposito and his daughter. Sherman has requested Esposito be allowed to talk to her for a half-hour per day.

    The guardian will help determine whether that is in the best interests of the child, Sherman said. The motion will be discussed with the guardian when Esposito returns to court May 7.

    “Chris’ focus is on proving his innocence and being reunited with his child,” Sherman said.

    The wife told police her husband claimed he had ties to organized crime and told her he could “make her disappear” with one phone call, court records show. One employee allegedly told police Esposito bragged about being connected to the mafia.

    Court documents show police unsuccessfully tried to record a conversation with Esposito talking about hiring the employee to kill his wife.

    During the couple’s divorce proceedings last fall, deli employees testified about the threats and Esposito’s attempt to hire someone to kill his wife, his arrest warrant affidavit states. One employee told police Esposito and a friend threatened him three times after his testimony, telling him he would die.

    Esposito is free on $250,000 bond and as a condition of his release, he must remain at least 100 yards away from his wife, daughter and his in-laws.