A Malden man was arrested Friday and charged in connection with an attempt to hire a contract killer – who was actually an undercover federal agent – to murder his wife.

Massimo Marenghi, 54, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of murder-for-hire.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, police learned from a source that Marenghi had complained about his wife seeking a restraining order against him. Marenghi allegedly asked that person for assistance in killing his wife.

At the direction of federal agents, Marenghi was introduced to an undercover agent who posed as a contract killer. On Jan. 20, Marenghi met with the agent and allegedly sought help to “eliminate” his problem. Marenghi provided the agent with a photograph of his wife’s home and explained how to evade detection by cameras while approaching the residence, Lelling's office said.

On Friday, Marenghi allegedly met with the agent once again and discussed moving forward with the killing. Marenghi provided $1,500 cash as a deposit and explained that the sooner the “demolition job” took place, the sooner he would be able to pay the balance. He allegedly provided the agent with a photograph of his wife, hours of operation of her place of business, and a schedule indicating the “best time for the construction work to start.”

Marenghi was due to appear in in federal court in Boston via videoconference.

In convicted, Marenghi could see up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.  Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. Lelling thanked the Malden Police Department for their help.  AUSA Adam Deitch of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.

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