A Stearns County businessman tried to hire a hit man to take out the fiancé of an old girlfriend after she wouldn't resume their affair, federal authorities said.
But the man he'd allegedly asked to find a hit man backed out, and on Friday Robert James Schueller was charged in connection with a murder-for-hire plot.
Schueller, 29, appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, charged with the use of interstate commerce facilities to commission the murder, in violation of federal law. According to court documents, Schueller asked one of his employees to help orchestrate the murder, and in doing so made phone calls and sent text messages — as well as a $10,000 payment — across state lines.
An affidavit filed in court lays out this sequence of events:
Schueller had a three-month affair with a woman, identified as "R.T.," while he was married to another woman. All three worked at Nomad Pipeline Services, Schueller's family-owned business, where he and his wife are president and vice president, respectively. The company is based in Minnesota but does work around the country.
R.T. ended the relationship in August 2013 and began a relationship with another man, identified as "C.A." Schueller learned of the relationship in November 2013 and contacted R.T. repeatedly over several months, attempting fruitlessly to reignite the relationship.
On Feb. 6, Schueller was on a cruise when he called another employee, identified in court documents as "W.E.," asking for help hiring a hit man to kill C.A.
W.E. lives in Chicago but was staying at Schueller's home in Minnesota at the time. He has multiple felony convictions, and authorities said Schueller believed that one of W.E.'s prison connections could carry out the murder.
The affidavit said Schueller called and texted W.E. throughout February, March and April to check on his progress. On Feb. 13, Schueller sent a text asking if W.E. had heard back from any of his "connections." W.E. responded with a phone call, pretending he'd spoken with a potential hit man in what he later told law enforcement was an effort to stall Schueller. He didn't want to orchestrate the murder, he said, but also didn't want to say no to his boss.
'Burn those cards'
In March, Schueller had one of his employees in Minnesota drive to Wisconsin to deliver a package to W.E. It contained $10,000 in cash to pay the hit man, as well as two of Schueller's business cards taped together. C.A.'s name was handwritten on the back of one of the cards, along with information about where he worked.
At one point, Schueller asked if $10,000 was enough, and offered to send more money, the affidavit said.
On May 2, W.E. called Schueller and said he wouldn't be able to find a hit man after all. Schueller then sent W.E. a text that said, "Burn those business cards."
"Ten four," W.E. replied. But he kept the business cards in his wallet and later gave them to law enforcement.
W.E. returned the $10,000 to Schueller in a package labeled, "For Bob's eyes only do not open."
The affidavit said that during the months of correspondence, W.E. at one point asked Schueller if the murder plot was a joke.
"No, dude," Schueller responded, "I need this done."
Schueller's attorney did not respond to a request for comment late Friday.