Man charged in gun-trafficking probe linked to murder case against Hernandez
A federal grand jury has indicted a Florida man on multiple charges in a gun-trafficking investigation that is tangentially linked to the Massachusetts murder case involving former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
The investigation centers on the transportation of three guns — a semiautomatic rifle and two .22-caliber pistols — from Florida to the Northeast.
None of them, however, is the weapon used to kill Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semipro football player who was gunned down last June 17 in a secluded field less than a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleboro, Mass., home.
The search for that weapon, believed to be a .45-caliber Glock pistol, is ongoing.
Hernandez, 24, and two associates, Carlos Ortiz, 28, and Ernest Wallace Jr., 42, have been indicted on murder and other charges in Lloyd’s death. All three are being held without bail.
The man indicted in the gun-trafficking case is Oscar Hernandez Jr. He is not related to the former football star.
Prosecutors, who have said in court that Aaron Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd’s murder because he was upset about something the man had said at a nightclub, is accused of summoning Ortiz and Wallace from his hometown of Bristol, Conn., to his mansion in North Attleboro. Then, according to court documents, the three of them allegedly drove to Boston and picked up Lloyd before returning to North Attleboro.
Lloyd was gunned down in a field surrounded by mounds of gravel and dirt in an industrial park.
The case against Oscar Hernandez Jr. is focused on three weapons that investigators have linked to Aaron Hernandez:
–A .22-caliber Jimenez Arms pistol that was purchased April 16, 2013, at a True Value hardware store in Belle Glade, Fla. According to court documents, that gun is believed to have been in the car the night Lloyd was killed. According to court documents, the day after Lloyd’s murder, investigators believe Aaron Hernandez told his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, to get all the weapons out of their house. This pistol was discovered two days after Lloyd’s murder in the woods along a road near the football star’s home. According to court documents, it was "located on top of the ground cover and was a short distance from the roadway. This indicated to investigators that the .22 handgun may have been recently discarded."
–A .22-caliber Jimenez Arms pistol that was purchased at the same hardware store on April 24, 2013. That gun was confiscated by police in Providence, R.I., last May 18 after an incident at a nightclub involving Aaron Hernandez. According to a Providence police report, officers went to a club to disperse a crowd after a man identifying himself as a New York Jets fan started taunting Hernandez. As Hernandez and his friends left, an officer saw someone in the group toss the handgun underneath a car before fleeing. Investigators later concluded that the man who ditched the gun was Wallace.
–A 7.62 x 39mm semi-automatic rifle that was discovered inside a Toyota Camry that was parked in the garage at Hernandez’s home. The discovery was made five days after Lloyd’s killing as investigators executed a search warrant at Hernandez’s home. That gun, according to a trace done by agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, had been purchased April 15, 2013, at the Delray Shooting Center in Delray Beach, Fla. Court documents do not identify the purchasers of the three guns.
It’s clear from the indictment issued against Oscar Hernandez that federal agents suspect that at least the rifle was moved across state lines in the Camry, and they suspect the man both purchased the car and arranged for it to be shipped from Florida to Massachusetts.
However, when he testified before a federal grand jury in Boston last Dec. 4, Oscar Hernandez denied buying the Camry or arranging for shipment to Massachusetts. In addition to three counts of lying to the grand jury, the indictment accuses him of trying to "influence, obstruct, and impede the due administration of justice in that the defendant did knowingly make misleading and false declarations … and concealed relevant information while testifying under oath before a United States grand jury for the District of Massachusetts."
The indictment also said that he tried to "corruptly persuade" an unidentified individual from testifying before the grand jury.
Oscar Hernandez is expected to be moved to Massachusetts to face the federal charges.
Aaron Hernandez is not scheduled to be in court again until June 16.
In addition to Ortiz and Wallace, Jenkins — the former player’s fiancee — has been charged with perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury, and Hernandez’s cousin, Tanya Singleton, has been accused of conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact to murder for allegedly helping Wallace flee to Florida in the days after Lloyd’s killing.
Hernandez himself has other potential legal troubles on the horizon.
He is the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation in Boston into a 2012 drive-by shooting in the city’s theater district that left two men dead and another wounded. A Toyota 4Runner that police believe was used in those shootings was discovered in the garage of a home in Bristol owned by Hernandez’s uncle.
And he is the subject of a civil lawsuit filed in Florida by a man who alleged that Hernandez shot him in the face and left him for dead after they got into an argument at a nightclub.