Registered sex offender allegedly enticed 12-year-old girl, schemed murder-for-hire plot from prison to stop her from testifying: DOJ

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A registered sex offender allegedly enticed a 12-year-old girl into sexual activity. The Rhode Island man attempted to orchestrate a murder-for-hire plot to eliminate her from testifying against him, according to the Department of Justice.

Chandler John Cardente, 28, allegedly attempted to lure a 12-year-old girl in December. Cardente and the child had reportedly been talking to each other on social media on Dec. 3, 2021, just seven days before he allegedly sexually abused the child, according to the indictment. Cardente posed as a 17-year-old, according to police.

“She went out to the soccer field, through the woods and to Cardente in his waiting vehicle on the side of Route 102,” said Burrillville Police Col. Stephen Lynch.

WRPI-TV reported, “The girl’s family reported her missing after she did not return home from school, according to Lynch.”

Burrillville police suspect that Cardente pulled over the car and forced the girl to exit after learning that authorities were in search of him relating to the missing minor. Approximately four hours after being picked up by Cardente, police said they later found the Burrillville Middle School student curled up on the side of the road in Warwick.

“We believe that Cardente kicked her out of the car around 9:30 p.m., so you’re looking at a minimum of seven hours [they were] together on Friday evening,” Lynch said.

Cardente was arrested in December 2021.

On Wednesday, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment charging Cardente with one count each of enticement of a minor, committing a felony offense involving a minor while being a registered sex offender, and use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, according to United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.

“Enticement of a minor is punishable by a statutory penalty of up to life in federal prison, with a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of ten years; committing a felony offense involving a minor while being a registered sex offender is punishable by a consecutive term of ten years of incarceration to any sentence imposed for enticement of a minor; interstate murder-for-hire is punishable by a statutory penalty of up to ten years imprisonment,” the Department of Justice explained.

In February, Cardente made a phone call while he was being detained at one of the Department of Corrections Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI). WRPI-TV reported that Cardente unknowingly called an “undercover Rhode Island State Police detective, during which he reportedly said: ‘I got a 12-year-old witness, and she needs to end up dead … you’re okay with that?'”

“She's a witness, she needs to go. I don't care how she does it,” Cardente said, according to the affidavit.

The detective allegedly gave Cardente an opportunity to withdraw the murder-for-hire request, but the registered sex offender allegedly said, “I'm going to go to sleep at night so, I'm fine with it. I just need it done before I get indicted.”

The DOJ press release stated, “It is further alleged in the indictment that, while being held at the Adult Correctional Institutions, Cardente communicated by telephone with another person. During these communications, Cardente expressed his intent that the victim be murdered, and offered $200 in cash and equipment worth $1,500.”

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations; the Burrillville, Warwick, and Cranston Police Departments; Rhode Island State Police; and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections Special Investigations Unit.

Law & Crime reported, “Cardente was convicted in July 2014 on one count of first-degree child molestation ae was subsequently convicted of sex offender registration violations in February and June of 2019, as well as in September and November of 2020.”

Cardente is registered as a Level 3 sex offender in Rhode Island, Lynch said.

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