Caught on the darkweb: Kona woman is 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 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 dark net websites in January and March to hire a hit man to kill her husband.

The husband, Robert Bruce, 61, had filed for divorce in November, was no longer living with his wife and had an active restraining order prohibiting Chen from threatening, 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 at her bail hearing on 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.

Over the government’s objection, Chang is not prohibiting Chen from having contact with Bruce or from living with him. Bakke told Chang the couple has 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 of a plot to kill Bruce, the only information they had of 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.

By Nelson Daranciang Tribune News Service

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