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Murder-for-hire plot investigation took three weeks

By Staff | Feb 22, 2010

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated Dustin Russell Lofty for nearly three weeks leading up to his arrest Saturday for an alleged murder-for-hire plot in connection with Cape Coral Coun-cilmember Eric Grill.
Lofty, 24, allegedly contacted Grill and offered his services as a hit man.
Contact between Grill and Lofty began as early as Feb. 2.
Grill reported the contact to authorities and cooperated in the investigation that resulted in Lofty’s arrest.
Lofty was charged with two counts of solicitation to commit capital murder.
According to a prepared statement from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Lofty told Grill he could “take care of his problems” in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money, by targeting Lisa Johnson and David Malmberg.
Johnson and Malmberg each have alleged that Grill bilked them out of thousands of dollars for construction work that was never completed.
Grill recently was arrested on charges of grand theft and fraud in connection with the Johnson and Malmberg’s complaints, though the State Attorney’s Office has not decided whether to pursue those charges. He is scheduled for arraignment on March 1.
Grill declined to answer any questions when contacted Sunday, stating only that he was cooperating with the Sheriff’s Office, and confirming that he is a witness in the case.
Lisa Johnson said Sunday that the Sheriff’s Office told her there was no reason to be concerned during the investigation, and if there had been, Johnson and her family would have been put under protection.
She said she feels safe now that Lofty is behind bars.
“I’m not worried at all, I don’t feel there’s a threat to me or my family,” she said Sunday. “Everything is under control.”
According to a narrative released from the Lee County Sheriff’s Department on Monday, Lofty originally sent Grill unidentified e-mails stating he could help Grill.
Grill met with Lofty on two separate occasions at Nestor’s Restaurant on Hancock Bridge Parkway, under surveillance from the LCSO, to discuss the terms of the proposition.
The narrative states that Lofty told Grill it would cost “four zeroes” to rid him of his detractors, and that he needed $500 up front to acquire the “tools of the trade,” in Lofty’s words.
On Feb. 20, the LCSO gave Grill a manila envelope containing “five, prerecorded hundred dollar bills,” which he was to give to Lofty during their meeting at Saratoga Lake Park the same day.
LCSO observed Grill hand the envelope to Lofty, after which they moved in and took Lofty into custody.