ST. LOUIS – A former insurance agent will spend the next three years in federal prison for his role in a murder-for-hire conspiracy involving a former St. Louis restaurateur and reality television star.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said Waiel “Wally” Yaghnam pleaded guilty in July 2022 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
Yaghnam admitted conspiring with James Timothy Norman to fraudulently obtain a life insurance policy on Norman’s nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr. That policy contained a $200,000 base, a $200,000 accidental death rider that would pay out if Montgomery died of anything other than natural causes, and a $50,000 10-year term rider that would pay out if Montgomery died within a decade of the policy being approved.
Montgomery was shot and killed in the 3900 block of Natural Bridge Road on the evening of March 14, 2016. He was 21.
Norman, a co-owner of Sweetie Pie’s soul food restaurants in the St. Louis area, arranged the murder of his nephew for the insurance money, of which Norman was the sole beneficiary.
Both Norman and Montgomery appeared on the reality show “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s.”
In Oct. 2014, Yaghnam and Norman began filing life insurance applications for Montgomery but lied about the young man’s income, net worth, medical history, employment, and family background.
After Montgomery’s murder, Yaghnam placed calls to the company that issued the policy to file a claim. That claim was ultimately rejected.
Prior to sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge John Ross said there was no evidence that Yaghnam knew Norman would kill his nephew when committing insurance fraud, but added, “It was a foreseeable outcome that bad things were going to happen.”
Travell Hill, the man who shot and killed Montgomery, pleaded guilty in June 2022 to one count of murder-for-hire and one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. He was sentenced in October to 32 years in prison.
Terica Ellis, an exotic dancer living in Memphis, Tennessee, was accused of tracking Montgomery’s location prior to the murder. She pleaded guilty in July 2022 to one count of murder-for-hire conspiracy. She’ll be sentenced on Jan. 10, 2023.
Meanwhile, Norman was convicted in September of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, murder-for-hire, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He’ll be sentenced on March 2, 2023.