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A Florida woman used funds from a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan to hire a hit man to murder a rival who dated her ex-boyfriend, according to police.
On April 20, 2021, Jasmine Martinez, 33, received a $15,000 PPP loan, which she claimed was to bankroll her single-employee beauty salon. PPP loans are loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration that are provided to businesses to keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two weeks later, a man wearing a black sweatshirt shot Le'Shonte Jones, 24, as she walked to her South Miami-Dade apartment building with her 3-year-old daughter at around 3:15 p.m.
Jones, a Transportation Security Administration employee at Miami International Airport, died at the crime scene from multiple gunshot wounds in the attack. Her daughter was injured from the shooting after being grazed by bullets and was airlifted to a hospital.
Martinez made withdrawals from her bank account totaling more than $10,000 in the days before Jones' murder, the police said. Police suspect that Martinez paid ex-con Javon Carter, 29, for the hit on Jones. Romiel Robinson, a 35-year-old Florida man believed to be in a romantic relationship with Martinez, served as a middle man and put his girlfriend in touch with the alleged hit man, according to arrest warrants.
The Miami Herald said of Carter, "The warrants reveal that a couple hours after the murder, he got paid and used his phone to video himself counting a 'large sum' of cash. 'Just another day at the office,' he said in the video, according to the warrants."
NEW: Three charged in murder of Miami TSA agent Le\u2019Shonte Jones. One of the suspects, Jasmine Martinez, had a long history of run-ins with victim.\n\nJones was also the victim/witness in a robbery case involving Martinez's boyfriend.https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article258309843.html\u00a0\u2026— David Ovalle (@David Ovalle) 1644620626
Investigators focused their attention on the relationship between Martinez and Jones.
"The police said the killing occurred after a series of violent acts were inflicted on Jones over the years by Martinez or people connected with her," the New York Times reported.
In May 2018, Martinez allegedly ran up to Jones and began punching her in the face. Martinez was charged with battery.
While testifying in the case against Martinez, police said Jones was walking to her car outside the courthouse when she was punched, then had her cell phone and other belongings stolen by two men. According to police, one of the men was reportedly Martinez's new boyfriend, Kelly Nelson. He was arrested and charged with armed robbery in that case.
Last March, Jones informed authorities that she was being harassed and offered money not to testify in the robbery case, police said. Martinez purportedly sent Jones a message on social media instructing her to tell authorities that Nelson did not have a firearm during the robbery, police said.
The TSA agent continued to cooperate with prosecutors and revealed the harassment by Martinez during a deposition on April 9, just weeks before her killing.
After Jones was murdered, detectives reviewed jail phone calls between Martinez and Nelson, who was incarcerated. In one phone call, Martinez said she was "ready to go kill this ho" and said Jones has to "die," according to the warrant. Nelson has not been accused of participating in the killing of Jones.
Last week, police arrested Martinez in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Also last week, Miami-Dade police arrested Carter. Robinson was already incarcerated.
Carter was charged with first-degree murder and the attempted murder of Jones’ daughter.
"The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is planning to seek grand jury indictments for first-degree murder, which means the trio could possibly face the death penalty," according to the Miami Herald.
Fallon Zirpoli, a lawyer representing Martinez, said in a statement on Tuesday that his client "has always denied any involvement in this tragedy since the first time law enforcement approached her last summer.
Jonathan Jordan, Robinson's attorney, said, "Romiel is and has been in custody well before this incident unfolded. This loss of life is tragic but Mr. Robinson had nothing to do with it. We look forward to reviewing all of the evidence and maintain he is innocent of these allegations."
From left: Romiel Robinson, Jasmine Martinez, Javon CarterMiami-Dade Police
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Paul Sacca is a staff writer for Blaze News.