Summary of a case involving a little guy with a big mouth arrested for exploitation of the elderly…and then solicitation to commit murder.
Sami Jourdak was a 71-year-old vertically challenged person with an irritating high voice and he sure talked a lot. The first time we met, he reminded me of some of the small, talky characters played by the actor Joe Pesci, but with white hair. He seemed harmless enough, though, and there was something sad about the guy.
Our paths crossed when he exploited a 94-year-old blind woman named Hillary. She was alert, trusting and courageous in many ways.
At the time, the two recently had met at her church and quickly developed what seemed a mutually beneficial friendship. He would take her out to lunch a few times a week and she would pay. He was tight on money and she loved to get out of her house, so it worked out quite well. It all seemed harmless enough.
But looks were deceiving and Jourdak was a dangerous man. Twelve years earlier he had been arrested and convicted for sexual assault on a child and spent two years in prison for that crime. This apparently harmless old man with the non-stop squeaky voice was a predator.
When they went out to lunch, Jourdak was slipping Hillary’s ATM card from her purse, making withdrawals, then replacing it without her knowing. It was too easy.
But after two weeks and more than $5,000 in withdrawals, Hillary’s home health aide caught Jourdak sneaking the ATM card back into the purse. When the aide approached him about it, he became very threatening and assured her that if she spoke to Hillary, she would regret it.
Instead, the aide went to the police and I became involved.
When I first approached Hillary, she was not only emotionally hurt but also angry that Jourdak had violated her trust. She agreed to wear a “wire,” a secret recording device that all cop-and-crime movies seem to include for some reason. Hillary said she would question him about the money when he came to visit her the following day.
Jourdak arrived right on time expecting to take Hillary to lunch, but instead she confronted him about his theft. My partner and I listened to the conversation from inside an unmarked police car parked in the neighbor’s driveway.
When confronted by Hillary, Jourdak admitted everything, but insisted that he took her money so that no one else could. He claimed that he was only trying to protect her. His defense was lame, we moved in and he was arrested.
I thought that this case had ended, but Jourdak had other ideas…..
He was furious at the home health aide because he suspected that she had tipped off the police. So he wanted her dead, just as he had threatened.
This time, Jourdak was more than all talk.
Jourdak’s cellmate was a “tough guy,” so to speak. He was someone with a violent background related to drugs and weapons violations. So Jourdak approached him about hiring a hit man to kill the home health aide for a few thousand dollars.
Jourdak said that, with the witness out of the way, he could both get revenge and probably beat the charges against him. His cellmate said that he would see what he could do.
Less than two weeks later, after Jourdak had bonded out of jail, he met with a stranger at a diner in Fort Lauderdale. His cellmate indeed had arranged a rendezvous with a hired killer.
The hit man was a big, sleazy-looking middle-aged man who dwarfed Jourdak’s small body. Jourdak spent a full hour with him and wouldn’t stop talking, of course. That was his nature. He said that he wanted the health aide killed and didn’t care how. He also explained that he had been taking Hillary’s ATM card and everything had been going just fine until the aide had butted in and ratted him out to the police.
In the end, Jourdak agreed to pay $3,000, but only after the killing. The hit man said that he wanted the money before the murder. Jourdak agreed and they went their separate ways, planning to meet the next day to exchange the payment.
Jourdak drove home to his apartment, but the hit man drove to the rear parking lot of the diner where the rest of us had been listening from behind tinted windows in unmarked cars. The hit man was actually an ATF agent and I, along with several other detectives and agents, had been monitoring the meeting from the start.
Sami Jourdak simply was a victim of very bad luck. His cellmate was a tough guy all right, but also a confidential informant for an ATF agent. He had reported Jourdak’s intentions to his agent, who in turn had called me.
Those of us working the case decided that it would be prudent to arrest Jourdak quickly. I found him on that same day in his apartment complex doing his dirty laundry.
I arrested him again, this time for solicitation to commit murder. He cried like a baby when he was loaded into the back seat of a squad car and carried off to jail.
The hit man in this case had been an impostor, yes – but so was Jourdak, and he gave perfect example of how predators who appear completely harmless can be the most dangerous predators of all.
by Joe Roubicek, copyright 2010 Coral Springs