Longform

Accidental Hit Man

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They wrangled the corpse into the back of Lehmann's SUV. Lehmann and Brandreth got in and took off. Hbaiu and Keneuker followed in Lehmann's other car, a Jaguar. They headed west on Calle Ocho toward the Everglades. At one point, Lehmann recalls, a cop stopped Hbaiu and Keneuker for a faulty brake light and ticketed them.

Then they stopped at a gas station, perhaps Dade Corners, on Krome Avenue. Lehmann wanted to dump the corpse in a garbage can. "I got a body in the back seat of my car, and I'm ready to piss myself, to tell you the truth," Lehmann recalls.

Instead, the men drove a mile west, past the Miccosukee casino. Soon, they turned right onto a dirt road.

It was a cool, dark evening, and a half-moon was rising as they slid the body into the inky water. Brandreth said the alligators would eat the body. "I was hoping he was right," Lehmann says in the deposition. "I'm from New Jersey. I don't know about this place. To me, I think alligators are everywhere in the Everglades, just walking around."

Lehmann would later conjecture that Brandreth killed Citranglo for giving his brother Keith a lethal dose of drugs. Citranglo had even dealt drugs at Keith's funeral, Lehmann says in the deposition.

But, as with the story of the Boulis killing, there are problems with Lehmann's version of events. He claims Brandreth shot Citranglo four times in the back and the blood splattered everywhere. But the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office concluded that Citranglo was shot only once, at close range in the chest — which would mean there was likely little bleeding.

And Hbaiu and Keneuker contradict each other on the number of shots, the purpose of the meeting with Citranglo, and who wanted him beaten.

Moreover, Brandreth denies pulling the trigger. On the day of the murder, he says, he was laying stepping stones in his father's garden in Weston. (His father cannot corroborate the story because he died in 2005.) A few days later, on January 9 or 10, Brandreth recalls, he received a call from a friend named Eva while he was shopping at the Home Depot. "They found Steve," she allegedly said.

"Hey, where is he?" Brandreth recalls asking.

"In the Everglades."

"What the fuck is he doing there?"

"You really don't know, do you?"


The murder, it seems, was all part of doing business. In May 2002, Lehmann ordered Brandreth to Tijuana, where he was to buy 1,350 vials of ketamine for $10 each. They'd be labeled as nutritional supplements, shipped to Miami or New York, and sold for $60 apiece. Lehmann's cover was a legitimate business, a vitamin and health store on South Dixie Highway in Coral Gables called Super Nutrition, federal agents say.

Lehmann had moved to a white stucco mansion with thick foliage and an iron gate on Pine Tree Drive near the LaGorce Country Club in Miami Beach. Brandreth sometimes crashed there. He recalls fondly that they often invited strippers over to get naked in the pool — and kept a pair of clippers handy in case anyone needed a last-minute pubic-hair trim. There were always eight or ten swank rides in the driveway: Corvettes, Range Rovers, Jaguars. "I liked Tom's lifestyle," Brandreth says. "He was out every night with Benz­es, girls. He made a lot of money."

Things got ugly, though, in June, when Hbaiu was arrested in Swatara Township, Pennsylvania, for stealing a camera. Soon, local cops discovered that he had been convicted of federal drug trafficking; he had been indicted in both California and New York after agents found ketamine and guns in his Columbia University dorm room and was on probation. When questioned, he started singing about Citranglo's murder. He would later be sentenced to two years in prison on trafficking and other charges.

Also in June, agents who were wiretapping Lehmann's phone conversations and culling the trash seized a ketamine shipment in Miami. In September, they raided the Pine Tree Drive mansion and found 200 vials of ketamine, eight stolen vehicles worth $450,000, two dozen credit cards, and seven firearms, including two AK-47 assault rifles. Says DEA Special Agent Joe Kilmer: "As the agents continued to investigate, it just started to snowball."

On October 2, 2002, federal prosecutors charged Brandreth, Lehmann, and six others with smuggling, distribution of ketamine, and gun charges. At first, they all pleaded guilty on the drug and gun charges, and Lehmann received a five-year sentence. But in summer 2004, before a judge could decide Brandreth's penalty, Brandreth changed his mind and demanded a trial. The guns, he said, weren't his.

The testimony, which began in October 2004, lasted about two weeks. A highlight was the appearance of an up-and-coming DEA agent named Kevin Bliss. Though Bliss said the guns were in a room in Lehmann's house where Brandreth occasionally stayed, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan chastised the agent for misleading jurors and erasing crime scene photos. Ultimately, though, the jury convicted Brandreth.

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Tamara Lush