Murder-for-hire suspect pleads guilty

A Buckhannon man, who is facing charges in connection with an alleged murder-for-hire plot in Upshur County, pleaded guilty Tuesday to an unrelated federal charge in U.S. Magistrate Court in Elkins.

Rodolpho “Chino” Villagomez Correa, 33, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possession of a firearm by an alien illegally in the United States. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, followed by up to three years of supervised release. The charge also carries a potential fine of up to $250,000.

The remaining charges contained in a six-count federal indictment were dismissed in exchange for the guilty plea. A sentencing hearing will take place following the completion of a pre-sentencing investigation. Villagomez is currently being held without bond in Central Regional Jail.

The charge to which Villagomez pleaded guilty stems from federal authorities seizing 16 firearms from Villagomez’s home and business in July 2012. The plea agreement indicated that the firearms were not possessed for sporting purposes or collecting. Villagomez agreed to forfeit those guns, along with other items seized in the two searches.

Villagomez and his defense attorney, Harry Smith, did dispute the prosecution’s belief that one or more of those firearms were allegedly used in the commission of a separate crime. Another handgun, which was not listed among the 16 in the federal indictment, was turned over to the West Virginia State Police by a confidential informant.

Also confiscated by federal authorities were two resident alien cards, which authorities alleged to be fraudulent because the identification numbers were not assigned to Villagomez, said Homeland Security special agent Steve Austin.

“(His wife) said Mr. Villagomez had several identification documents with different names on them,” Austin said.

The plea agreement does not prevent Upshur County authorities from proceeding with the prosecution of Villagomez for his alleged participation in a murder-for-hire plot. Villagomez has been charged with being an accessory before/after the fact to first-degree murder. Villagomez is alleged to have paid $5,000 to Jessie Heater to kill 29-year-old Joshua Oberg in January 2012 after Villagomez learned that Oberg was allegedly romantically involved with his wife.

Heater is alleged to have given $500 to Siron to keep quiet about the events surrounding Oberg’s death. Villagomez, however, has yet to be indicted by an Upshur County grand jury on the charge.

Siron, of Weston, and Heater, of Buckhannon, are being held without bond in separate regional jails after being indicted on first-degree murder charges. Their trials have been postponed, and a new date has not been set.

Law enforcement officials discovered Oberg’s body in a shallow grave along Bull Run in Upshur County in July 2012 after receiving information from a confidential informant. Villagomez, Heater and Siron were subsequently taken into custody and have remained behind bars since.

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