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Kona woman accused of plotting to kill husband

HONOLULU — A 51-year-old Kona woman accused of using bitcoin to try to hire a hit man on the internet to kill her husband remains in custody at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, pending arrangements by federal court officials for her release.

Federal prosecutors filed papers in U.S. District Court last week accusing Emmy Baofang Chen of accessing two different darknet websites in January and March to hire a hit man to kill her 61-year-old husband, Robert Bruce.

Bruce filed for divorce in November and was no longer living with his wife. He had an active restraining order prohibiting Chen from threatening or physically or psychologically abusing him, maliciously damaging any of his property and from possessing, controlling or transferring any firearm or ammunition.

Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested Chen on June 26.

Bruce was at her initial court appearance the following day and her bail hearing Tuesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang ordered Chen’s release pending further prosecution on $100,000 upfront cash bond and imposed a curfew monitored by GPS. Chen’s lawyer, Victor Bakke, said the couple posted the $100,000 cash bond Tuesday but are awaiting the installation of location-monitoring equipment in their home.

Despite the government’s objection, Chang is not prohibiting Chen from having contact with Bruce or from living with him. Bakke told Chang the couple reconciled, got past the murder-for-hire allegations and were living together, caring for their minor son, when Chen was arrested.

Bruce also had the state Family Court TRO against his wife dissolved.

When federal authorities first learned about a plot to kill Bruce, the only information they had about the person attempting to hire a hit man was the online moniker “HAPPYNEWYEAR.” The moniker of the person who made a second attempt was “HAPPY2019.”

Bruce told federal agents in February that the only person who would want him dead was Chen because she was the sole beneficiary of his will. The couple owns eight vacation rental properties on the Big Island and a business that manages the properties.

Bruce told the federal agents that he and Chen had a history of disputes over finances, that his wife was familiar with the dark web and had experience transacting in bitcoin.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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