Alleged hit man plot foiled

CHIPPEWA, Pa. – An East Liverpool man was arrested Monday night after allegedly offering an undercover officer money to injure his wife’s nephew.

Gregory Travis, 50, was charged by Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) with criminal solicitation, criminal conspiracy, criminal attempted aggravated assault, reckless endangering of another person and resisting arrest.

According to Trooper Joshua Thomas of the PSP criminal investigation unit, the saga actually began to unfold Saturday night when Travis went into a Midland, Pa. establishment looking for someone who was not present.

He reportedly then had a conversation with another man he didn’t know, eventually resulting in Travis allegedly saying he “needed somebody taken out.”

“Doing the right thing, this person called Midland Borough Police Department Saturday night,” Thomas said, adding that Midland then called for the PSP in Beaver County to assist in the investigation.

A meeting was set up between the confidential informant and Travis Saturday night where he was advised someone would be contacting him about his request.

That person was actually Trooper Thomas, who arranged to meet Travis at a Chippewa restaurant Monday evening.

“We met and he proceeded to give me details of what he wanted done, who the victim was, saying he would pay me $1,000 and bail me out if I got caught. He indicated he’d pay more the worse (the victim) was hurt,” Thomas said Tuesday in a phone interview.

“We discussed payment plus extras, or ‘tips’ as he put it,” Thomas said, referring to additional money depending on how bad the man’s injuries were.

“He wanted him ‘incapacitated,’ that’s the word he used. He didn’t care how bad (he was injured). He didn’t want him dead,” Thomas said of the proposed victim, who is in his mid- to late-20s, he said.

According to the trooper, Travis was upset over some money issues between his wife and her nephew, Chad Hayes, although he would not go into particulars.

The meeting concluded with Travis giving Thomas photos of “the target,” Hayes.

As Travis went to leave the restaurant, officers from the PSP and Midland converged on him, causing him to be unable to back his vehicle, so he went over the curb, trying to go between the wall and another vehicle.

“We believe he was trying to flee,” Thomas said.

At the state patrol barracks, Travis reportedly refused to answer any questions, but he was arraigned on the charges and taken to Beaver County Jail, held under $100,000 bond. His next court hearing is June 25 at the Beaver County Courthouse.

Thomas said he was pleased with the way the operation went, saying, “This is something we have to take seriously and move on quickly. I’m very pleased with how we handled it from the beginning.”

He also commended the man Travis reportedly approached with his request, saying, “Had the informant not come forward, (the alleged victim) could have been seriously hurt,” had Travis found someone to go through with his alleged request.