Informant, ATF agent testify in Bashara trial

George Hunter
The Detroit News




Robert Bashara



Detroit — A month before Jane Bashara was murdered, the man who admitted to strangling her sent a text message about "(doing) somebody in" according to testimony Tuesday.

Prosecutors say the confessed murderer, handyman Joseph Gentz, was hired by Grosse Pointe Park businessman Robert Bashara, who is accused of first-degree murder. Gentz has pleaded guilty to killing Jane Bashara, but said Bashara forced him to strangle the woman at gunpoint.

Stan Brue, a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified about Gentz's text message. It was not revealed who received the message.

Brue was one of three witnesses who took the stand Monday in the trial's 11th day of testimony.

Earlier in the trial, Brue testified that cell phone evidence showed Bashara and his wife were near their home when she died, and that both of their vehicles left around the same time.

The cell phone records contradict Bashara's story to police that he was at the Hard Luck Lounge, located in a building he owned on Mack, when his wife was killed.

Beneath the bar was Bashara's sex dungeon. Prosecutors say Bashara wanted his wife killed so he could pursue a bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM) relationship with his girlfriend, Rachel Gillett, and other women he tried to woo into a threesome.

After Gentz was arrested for Jane Bashara's murder, Robert Bashara contacted furniture store owner Steve Tibaudo and asked him if he knew anyone who would kill Gentz in jail.

Tibaudo alerted authorities, who planted a recording device which captured Bashara discussing having Gentz killed for $20,000. Audio of their conversations was played in court Monday.

Tibaudo has repeatedly taken the witness stand during the trial, only to have his testimony interrupted for various reasons.

Police arrested Bashara after he gave Tibaudo a $2,000 down-payment for the murder. Bashara pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder, and is serving a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Tibaudo waded through often-difficult testimony Tuesday, answering many questions with "I don't recall." At one point, Judge Vonda Evans warned him about interrupting Bashara's attorney Lillian Diallo.

"It's rude," the judge said.

Also Tuesday, Grosse Pointe Park police dispatcher Jodi East testified. While she was on the stand, prosecutors played audio of Bashara calling police the night of his wife's murder to report that she hadn't come home.

"I'm very concerned," Bashara told East. "I don't want to say anything about foul play because there's no evidence of it. I went out in the garage and looked, and I didn't see anything scattered about."

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134