One Way Out

Jan Solomon made two huge mistakes in early 1997.
First, the Scottsdale man--then 57--resumed a romance with a woman he had dated when both were in their teens. Trouble was, both were married.

Second, he attempted to hire someone to kill his paramour's husband. Luckily, the would-be hit man contacted Phoenix police, which assigned department "murder for hire" expert Jack Ballentine to see if Solomon was for real ("If At First You Don't Succeed . . . " November 12, 1998).

Ballentine played the role of an East Coast mob hit man with elan, finally meeting with Solomon at a Biltmore Fashion Park coffee house after weeks of phone conversations. Ballentine arrived at the coffee house in a limo--borrowed from a local mortuary--and made an almost comical grand entrance.

"He agreed to pay me some money up-front," Ballentine recalls, "and then he'd pay the rest back in services for the mob, as a collector or whatever we wanted."

Solomon also gave Ballentine a photo of the proposed murder victim, and some information as to his whereabouts. One possible method of murder: Ballentine would run down the husband--a bicycle enthusiast--with his car somewhere in the desert.

Solomon was arrested at the coffee house, and originally faced charges of conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation of murder.

It was the first known contact with the criminal justice system for Solomon, a onetime motivational speaker, hairdresser and salesman.

In a plea bargain, Solomon admitted his guilt to the solicitation charge, but told a pre-sentencing investigator that he had intended only to ask Ballentine to "seriously injure" his girlfriend's husband, but the detective had coerced him into going further.

Solomon's girlfriend is still married to the man who could have become a murder victim, according to police reports. After his arrest, Solomon filed for divorce from his wife of 33 years.

And, after several delays in the courtroom proceedings, on January 8, Superior Court Judge Roger Kaufman sentenced Solomon to seven years in prison. With credit for time already served in the county jail, Solomon could have been paroled after serving about four years.

But it wasn't to be. Prison officials confirm that Solomon died February 28, shortly after suffering a heart attack at a state complex in Perryville. He was 58.

--Paul Rubin

Contact Paul Rubin at his online address: [email protected]

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