Georgia woman accused of taking part in murder-for-hire plot in Kokomo

UPDATE:

On Sept. 17, 2018, Cynthia Foster pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal who committed murder and her conspiracy to commit murder charge was dismissed. She was sentenced to 526 days of supervised probation.

ORIGINAL STORY:

KOKOMO, Ind. – A Georgia woman is behind bars in Howard County after being accused of taking part in a murder-for-hire plot.

The 47-year-old Cynthia Foster is charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

The case came to light after federal prosecutors dismantled a major drug trafficking ring in Kokomo last month.

Setting up a wiretap that later helped officers seize guns and drugs from 13 homes around Kokomo, investigators say they also uncovered and ultimately prevented a deadly plan.

Prosecutors say several months before the raids, Michael O'Bannon was the victim of a drug related robbery. Court records claim O’Bannon worked for Reggie Balentine and sold drugs supplied by Pierre Riley from Macon, Georgia.

According to the affidavit, Riley and Balentine agreed to help pay two hit men $10,000 to murder the person they thought stole money from O'Bannon.

That murder though never took place.

“Thanks to the quick accurate action of federal, state and local law enforcement combining their talents, a serious violent crime was prevented in this community,” said United States Attorney Josh Minkler.

Speaking about the plot last month, Minkler claimed Jamal Williamson and Sira Quadir were hired as the hitmen and said the pair went to a Kokomo Wal-Mart to buy supplies to carry out the murder.

A third suspect, Cynthia Foster, is now accused of taking part in the plan by driving the accused hitmen to Indiana from Georgia.  She allegedly rented a room at a Quality Inn, where police arrested the trio and found two handguns.

Prosecutors believe the case continues to illustrate how drugs and violence often go hand in hand.

“Drug dealers cannot go to the police and they cannot go the courts to resolve their disputes,” said Minkler. “Generally, drug traffickers are inextricably intertwined with the level of violence that you’ve seen in this community.”

Foster was arrested in Georgia, but is being held in Howard County on a $60,000 bond.