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N.J. man gets 24 years for bid to kill witness

The Baltimore Sun

A 38-year-old New Jersey man was sentenced in federal court in Baltimore yesterday to more than 34 years in prison for trying to kill a witness.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Van Cleve Ashley for conspiracy to tamper with a witness, conspiracy to retaliate against a witness and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

According to testimony presented at trial, Ashley conspired with Fred Caruso and Ramaine York on Feb. 24, 2002, to fatally shoot Thomas D. Dixon Jr. of White Marsh to prevent Dixon from appearing as a witness in the federal case.

Prosecutors said Caruso provided Ashley with a semiautomatic pistol, a photograph of Dixon and directions to Dixon's house. Caruso paid Ashley $10,000. Ashley then solicited the help of York, providing him with the gun and directions to Dixon's house. York traveled from New Jersey to Maryland and shot Dixon several times in Baltimore County.

Dixon remained hospitalized for months after the shooting but survived the attack, authorities said.

Caruso and York had previously pleaded guilty to witness retaliation and testified at trial against Ashley. Garbis sentenced Caruso to 13 1/2 years and York was sentenced in federal court in New Jersey to 10 years.

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