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Phoenix man faces charges of setting up 'hit'

PORTLAND — A Phoenix man stands accused of hiring someone to kill or seriously injure a woman who was his longtime partner.

George Ardizzone, 69, of the 300 block of South Phoenix Road, appeared in Multnomah County Circuit Court Friday to face charges of solicitation to commit aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, and solicitation to commit first-degree kidnapping and first-degree assault.

A man who claimed Ardizzone had offered him a large sum of money for the assault or killing of his partner reported the offer to the East Multnomah Gang Enforcement Team, Gresham police Sgt. Michael LeDuc said.

The Oregonian described the intended victim as Ardizzone's ex-girlfriend, but police said she was a business partner who was involved in numerous financial ventures with Ardizzone, a contractor who works in the Rogue Valley and the Portland area.

LeDuc said he didn't know if the two had a romantic relationship. However, Ardizzone would have had to pay more than $50,000 to dissolve the business partnership, so he chose instead to try to eliminate the woman and retain full value of their shared investments, Gresham police said.

The would-be hit man cooperated with police to call Ardizzone and have him repeat the offer during a recorded phone call. He arranged to meet the hit man at a Home Depot near the Portland International Airport Thursday, police said.

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Department coordinated the meeting, Gresham police said.

At the meeting, Ardizzone, with cash in hand, said he'd pay the man $13,300 if he provided physical proof — either a body part or a personal item — that he had abducted or killed the woman, an affidavit filed in court said. Authorities haven't released the woman's name out of concern for her safety.

Gresham police swept in to arrest Ardizzone at the meeting. He was lodged in the Multnomah County Detention Center and made his first court appearance Friday. He was denied bail at his arraignment after prosecutors argued that he might have the money to flee and hurt the intended victim, the Oregonian reported.

Court documents said Ardizzone wanted to hire someone to "at least hospitalize" his ex-girlfriend and offered extra money if the woman was killed.

The intended target applied for a protective order against Ardizzone earlier this year, The Oregonian reported. The pair had dated for a decade, but the relationship recently had turned violent, according to court documents The Oregonian reviewed.