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Crime News Family Crimes

Reality TV Star Tim Norman Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder-For-Hire Plot

"Tim Norman sought to make $450,000 by having his nephew, Andre Montgomery, killed," said U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming. "Instead, he was caught and will spend the rest of his life in prison."

By Christina Coulter
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James “Tim” Norman, whose family's soul food restaurant chain Sweetie Pie's was featured in a reality show that aired for nine seasons, was sentenced to life in prison for arranging the murder of his nephew in order to collect insurance money, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri announced Thursday.

Norman, 43, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in September, according to a Justice Department press release.

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Before sentencing, U.S. District Judge John A. Ross told Norman that “it was a cold-blooded, incredibly premeditated, planned execution of your nephew,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Norman did not speak on his own behalf at his sentencing, according to reporting by the local outlet, but claimed his innocence in a recent social media post.

James "Tim" Norman attends the Soul Train Awards

Andre Montgomery Jr., Norman's 20-year-old nephew, was shot dead in St. Louis on March 14, 2016. Both Norman and Montgomery appeared in "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network, which first aired in 2011, according to IMBD.

Prosecutors argued that Norman arranged his nephew's killing after taking out an insurance policy on his life.

"Tim Norman sought to make $450,000 by having his nephew, Andre Montgomery, killed," said U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming, according to the press release. "Instead, he was caught and will spend the rest of his life in prison."

At his sentencing Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Angie Danis remarked that Norman portrayed a false image of himself on the reality show, obscuring his "more sinister intentions lurking underneath."

"The measure of someone's character is what they do when they think no one is watching," she told the court. "When [Norman] thought no one was watching, he planned the execution of his nephew and carried it out."

Several of Montgomery’s family members took the stand on Thursday to ask that Norman be served a life sentence.

“His greed has hurt so many people,” sad Michell Griggs, Montgomery’s mother. “Not just my family.”

The shooter, 31-year-old Travell Anthony Hill, was sentenced in October to 32 years in prison for one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and one count of murder-for hire, according to the release. He admitted to shooting Montgomery with a .380-caliber handgun and accepting $5,000 in payment from Norman.

Exotic dancer Terica Taneisha Ellis, of Memphis, 39, was sentenced to three years in prison in January after admitting that she had led Hill to Montgomery's location. She reportedly pleaded guilty and admitted that Norman paid her $10,000 to relay Montgomery's location. In court, she said that she did not know Montgomery would be shot.

Insurance agent Waiel "Wally" Rebhi Yaghnam was also charged in relation to the 2016 killing, and was sentenced to three years in November for wire and mail fraud conspiracy after admitting to "fraudulently helping Norman apply for multiple insurance policies beginning in October of 2014," according to the Justice Department release. He also helped Norman file a life insurance claim on Montgomery's policy after he'd been killed. 

Norman, even after his conviction and sentencing Thursday, has not admitted to his part in the plot. He did admit to hiring Hill and Ellis, but claims that he intended for them to confront Montgomery about a recent burglary at his mother’s home, the St. Lous Post-Dispatch reported.

"At least all his co-conspirators have accepted responsibility," Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg said of the case, according to the DOJ release. "To this day, Norman hasn't accepted responsibility despite that fact [that] 12 jurors unanimously convicted him after seeing and hearing seven days of evidence in his trial."

Norman will serve his life sentence consecutively to any sentence that results from a separate criminal case in Texas is which he's charged with assault on a family member, according to Law and Crime.

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