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Westchester Man Charged In Decades-Old Double Murder For Hire

Two defendants, including a 46-year-old Yonkers man, were charged Friday in a drug-related double murder for hire case that dates back to 1997, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Two defendants, including a 46-year-old Yonkers man, were charged Friday in a drug-related double murder for hire case that dates back to 1997, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Photo Credit: U.S. Justice Department

A 46-year-old man from Westchester was one of two suspects charged Friday in connection with a 20-year-old double murder for hire in the Bronx, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI, and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, announced the unsealing of a federal indictment charging Robert Acosta of Yonkers and Jose Diaz, also known as “Cano,” of the Bronx with the Dec. 22, 1997, murders of Alex Ventura, 25, and Aneudis Almonte, 20.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “This case proves why there is no time limit on holding someone responsible for murder; taking a human life is the worst crime a person can commit. Our agents and law enforcement partners work daily, pursuing suspects in crimes that seem unsolvable. The time and dedication make it worth the effort.”

Berman said: “Today’s indictment alleges that more than two decades ago, Robert Acosta orchestrated, and Jose Diaz carried out, the murders of Alex Ventura and Aneudis Almonte. Now, thanks to the outstanding work of the NYPD and FBI, the long arm of the law has reached back over two decades to charge Acosta and Diaz with those terrible crimes.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “After more than twenty years on-the-run, NYPD detectives and FBI agents have arrested two defendants for a double homicide in the Bronx. The focus and precision this case embodies is what has enabled this city to become the safest city in America. We will continue rooting out crime and violence wherever we find it, until every neighborhood and block of this city is safe.”

According to the Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court: In late 1997, Acosta agreed with Diaz and others to pay Diaz and others to kill persons who had stolen drug money from Acosta. As a result of this agreement, Alex Ventura and Aneudis Almonte were murdered in the vicinity of 2769 University Ave. in the Bronx.

Acosta and  Diaz, 52, were arrested on Friday morning by the NYPD and the FBI. The defendants were due to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

The Indictment charges each of the defendants in six counts: murder while engaged in a conspiracy to distribute five and more kilograms of cocaine and aiding and abetting the same (Counts One and Two); murder-for-hire conspiracy (Count Three); murder-for-hire and aiding and abetting the same (Counts Four and Five); and use of a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting the same (Count Six). ACOSTA and DIAZ each face a maximum sentence of life in prison or death. The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Laurie A. Korenbaum, Michael Kim Krouse, and Nicholas Chiuchiolo are in charge of the prosecution.

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