Man living illegally in MN charged in murder-for-hire plot

A man who authorities say was illegally residing in Minnesota is among three people charged in a murder-for-hire plot.

The plot, which targeted two Iranian dissidents living in Maryland, was discussed by the suspects over an encrypted messaging app between December 2020 through March 2021.

According to the indictment, which was filed in December 2023 but unsealed on Monday, Iranian resident Naji Sharifi Zindashti is accused of contacting Canadian national Patrick Ryan on the app SkyECC about the murder plot.

Ryan warned that going through with the killing in the United States would be difficult, the complaint alleges. However, Ryan told Zindashti he had an associate who could do the job but was "very far away" but "would travel."

According to the indictment, that person appears to be Adam Pearson, who authorities say is a Canadian living illegally in Minnesota under an assumed name.

As the complaint details, Pearson told Ryan he needed two to three men for the job and gave an initial price of $100,000. Separately, authorities say Ryan reached a $350,000 deal with Zindashti for the killings, plus $20,000 for travel expenses.

In January 2021, after agreeing to the deal, Ryan messaged Zindashti saying he had a "four-man team ready." However, authorities say it wasn't until early March that an associate of Zindashti's sent a $20,000 payment.

It's unclear how the plot was uncovered or disrupted. But, authorities say both Canadians are currently in custody in Canada on unrelated charges. On Monday, the United States Treasury Department issued a ban on Zindashti conducting any deals or transactions in the United States or with an American.

In a news release, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger's office

"To those in Iran who plot murders on U.S. soil and the criminal actors who work with them, let today’s charges send a clear message: the Department of Justice will pursue you as long as it takes – and wherever you are – and deliver justice," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

"As alleged, Mr. Zindashti and his team of gunmen, including a Minnesota resident, used an encrypted messaging service to orchestrate an assassination plot against two individuals," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger for the District of Minnesota. "Thanks to the skilled work of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents, this murder-for-hire conspiracy was disrupted and the defendants will face justice."