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Two Sentenced To Life In Prison For Killing California Chef In Scheme To Get $800K In Life Insurance Money

Dominic Sarkar was found with "multiple gunshot wounds" in his bed at his Fremont, California home on Oct. 8, 2018. Maria Moore and Marvel Salvant plotted to cash in on Sarkar's hefty life insurance policies, authorities said.

By Jill Sederstrom

Two people will spend the rest of their life behind bars for plotting to kill a California executive chef as he slept in his bed in an effort to cash in on $800,000 in life insurance money.

Maria Moore, 50, and Marvel Salvant, 46, were sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the death of Dominic Sarkar, who was found shot to death in his bed on October 8, 2018, according to a statement from the Fremont Police Department.

The pair had hoped to pocket $800,000 in life insurance money from two separate policies that named Moore a beneficiary, but evidence from the investigation, cell phone data and text messages between the pair, and Salvant’s own troubled conscience, would ultimately lead to their conviction.

Before his arrest, Salvant—the reported gunman—had allegedly told people he had committed a “cardinal sin” and would soon be coming into a large sum of money.

“I already did it. So, ain’t no turning back from here,” he allegedly told one person, according to court documents obtained by The East Bay Times.

According to police, a neighbor called 911 around 12:25 a.m. to report hearing gunshots in the 4300 block of Charleston Way. The neighbor reported seeing a male run from the house and flee on a bicycle shortly after the gunshots were fired.

Fremont Police arrived at the home, where Sarkar rented a room inside a house he shared with another family, and discovered the executive chef dead in his bed with “multiple gunshot wounds.”

Investigators would uncover video surveillance that showed a Subaru Outback circling the house shortly before the murder. The same vehicle later parked two blocks away from the home and a man was seen getting out and riding a bicycle to Sarkar’s home, according to court documents obtained by the local paper. After the shooting, the same man rode back to the Subaru and drove away.

Not long after he was killed, Moore told police she had an “occasional sexual relationship” with the victim and had been listed as the beneficiary on his life insurance policies, according to a statement from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Sarkar and Moore had taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on his life in April of 2016. Moore was listed as his domestic partner in the policy and his two daughters were listed as contingent beneficiaries; however, a few months later, prosecutors said Sakar’s daughters were removed from the policy and Moore’s son was listed as the contingent beneficiary in their place.

A second policy, amounting to $300,000 in additional life insurance, was purchased in 2017. Sarkar had listed his daughters as the sole beneficiary in that policy; however, in January of 2018 the policy was updated to remove his daughters and list Moore as the sole beneficiary, prosecutors said.

Less than one month before Sarkar was killed, prosecutors said Moore wired Salvant $500. Salvant and Moore had lived together in Seaside, California several years before the murder, police said.

Authorities also uncovered text messages between the pair that showed they had been communicating before and after the murder.

In addition to the surveillance footage from the neighborhood, prosecutors said Salvant’s cell phone location data also placed him in Sarkar’s neighborhood at the time of the shooting.

Police concluded that the Moore and Salvant had conspired together to kill Sarkar so they could share in the lofty insurance payout.

The pair were convicted by a jury of first-degree murder with special circumstances on Feb. 7.

At the time of his death, Sarkar had been an executive chef at the Passage to India restaurant in Mountain View.

The owner of the restaurant, Sushma Taneja, told KPIX in 2018 that at the time of Sarkar’s death, Moore had appeared to be in mourning and even invited his family to stay with her for his funeral.

“I thought she was a very nice person, very nice,” Taneja said. “She was crying a lot after he passed away, she used to cry a lot.”

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