New Charges for Texas Man in Botched Murder-for-Hire Plot to Kill Wife

PHOTO: Booking photo of John Franklin Howard, arrested in connection with the August 18, 2012 shooting of his wife, Nancy Howard, at their residence in Carrollton, TX, Aug. 26, 2012.
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The 52-year-old Texas man accused of hiring a hitman to kill his wife is now facing new allegations of embezzlement from a former employer.

Frank Howard was arrested Aug. 26 and charged with solicitation of murder for hiring 19-year-old Dustin Hiroms to kill his wife, according to prosecutors. Howard's wife, Nancy, was shot in the face on Aug. 18 in the driveway of their Dallas-area home. Howard survived but was left severely injured and lost her left eye.

A few days after the shooting, Howard awoke from her coma and filed for divorce. Howard claimed her husband confessed to a three-year affair with a woman in California, according to court filings. Frank Howard allegedly lavished his mistress with an $800,000 home, a condo in Lake Tahoe and $500,000 for expenses including her daughter's education.

Howard is now being hauled into court by a defense contractor that he used to work for. The company is accusing Howard of embezzling millions from contracts in the Middle East to finance his alleged secret life.

Howard's attorney Arch McColl calls the charges against his client preposterous, but did say that Howard had an affair that is now over.

Police initially caught wind of the alleged plot weeks before the actual shooting when Hiroms was arrested on July 13 for traffic violations and the passenger in the car was identified as Jason Rendine, according to the affidavit.

Hiroms told police he lived in Van, Texas, and was coming to Carrollton to collect money from his uncle. Hiroms changed his story multiple times and said he was not looking for his uncle, but an investor named John. Hiroms then told the arresting officer a startling revelation that he was a hit man and "he was working for a guy named John…" according to the affidavit filed in Denton County, Texas.

On July 15, Carrollton Police received information from a sergeant in Van that Rendine had been talking about a "hit" that Hiroms was hired to perform and received $30,000 from an unknown male.

On Aug. 22, Rendine and his wife, Stephanie Delacerda, were arrested on drug charges in Bossier City, La. After her arrest, cops seized $14,900 in cash and a Wells Fargo checkbook. Delacerda told investigators that she had a "business relationship" with Howard. She said Howard put $35,000 in her account for a "business transaction," and later changed her story and told investigators she was compensated for sex with Howard.

Two days later, a Denton County investigator was contacted by an inmate who said they had information about a shooting that occurred six days prior in Carrollton. The affidavit identifies the inmate as Billie Johnson, Hiroms' stepfather. Johnson told investigators that Howard approached him three years earlier to have his wife killed.

Later that day, Denton County investigators received a letter from the FBI about Stacey Serenko, Johnson's wife and Hiroms' mother. Serenko confirmed Johnson's story and said that Howard stressed the murder "had to look like an accident." According to the affidavit, Howard gave Johnson and Serenko $85,000 along with pictures of his wife.

On Aug. 24, Hiroms was arrested on aggravated robbery charges, but denied any involvement in the shooting, and admitted that Howard contacted him to kill his wife. Hiroms said Howard gave him approximately $80,000 in wire transfers and cash, according to the affidavit.

"They're not professional killers, they typically botch the job, and then they want to talk about it--either bragging or being completely careless in who they share the information with," said ABC News legal analyst Brad Garrett.

Howard is now free on $1 million bail, but authorities say allegations of his past are now catching up to him all at once.

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