A Panama City Man wanted for conspiring to kill two Bay County Circuit Judges is in custody in Louisiana. Multiple agencies worked together to solve the case, including Captain Jimmy Stanford with the Bay County Sheriff's Office who went undercover.
A Bay County citizen introduced Stanford to 46 year old Joseph Russell Schmitt, who was looking to hire a hitman to kill Judges Christopher Patterson and Allen Register.
"Pretty quickly, He indicated that he was willing to reward me for abducting Judge Patterson and Judge Register, having them secured in a remote location, chained to the floor until he could get there and torture them, and then we would then kill them."
Stanford said through speaking with Schmitt and an unrelated criminal incident, he learned Schmitt was in Texas and making his way to Bay County.
Several agencies including a U.S. Marshal's Task Force and Bossier City Police Department arrested Schmitt in Louisiana, ending a more than two week investigation.
"We stepped up the security for these judges, and last night when we knew he was on the way here, we provided personal protection for them so its kind of changed every ones lives the past two weeks. We've kind of had to walk on egg shells."
Stanford said Schmitt has ties to both judges in previous cases.
Schmitt is also facing domestic violence and burglary charges in Bay County and an aggravated stalking charge in St. Johns County.
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