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Cary man pleads guilty in murder-for-hire plot

WOODSTOCK – A Cary man pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to hire a hit man and faces up to 15 years in prison for attempted solicitation of murder for hire.

Stanley Helmer, 59, also pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation of aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Helmer entered a blind plea, meaning there is no agreement between his attorney and prosecutors as to the sentence. The plea was accepted by McHenry County Judge Joseph Condon, and Helmer’s sentencing was set for Aug. 16.

Both offenses are Class 1 felonies, but his sentences will be served at the same time, which means a maximum of 15 years in prison. Helmer also is eligible for probation.

Assistant State’s Attorney Dave Johnston said he will take the position that if Helmer is sentenced to prison, he would not be eligible for day-for-day credit and must serve 85 percent of the time.

Helmer’s attorney, Timothy Mahoney, declined to comment, other than to say he planned to ask for probation.

The target was Randy Smith of Midwest Woodwork and Veneering Inc., who hired Helmer in 2009 to build a 24,000-square-foot building on Chicago Street in Cary. Smith said he fired Helmer about a year later for poor-quality work but still paid him promptly.

Helmer eventually filed a civil lawsuit against Smith, and Smith countersued. A judge dismissed the cases, court records show.

In January 2011, Helmer began discussions with a confidential informant, identified by prosecutors as “John Hire,” expressing hatred for Smith and requesting that Smith be killed, injured or paralyzed. Helmer suggested five methods for doing so and offered $3,000, Johnston said.

In March 2011, Helmer met with the supposed hit man at the Cary McDonald’s and paid him $500 to buy a gun. He also provided a photo of Smith and told the man where Smith could be found, Johnston said.

Illinois State Police recorded at least one conversation, which included Helmer saying that when Smith was dead, he would go to the funeral and urinate on the grave.

Less than 24 hours after Helmer posted bond in the murder-for-hire case, he was arrested again on additional solicitation charges. Helmer allegedly offered $10,000 to a man to break the legs of the first informant, “John Hire,” with a baseball bat.

Those charges were dropped Wednesday.

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