Just a few months ago, Jason Dennis Simione wrote on his Facebook page: “I have never been happier.” He was married to a beautiful woman, president of a successful business, and the new father of a baby boy named Jett.
But that happiness crumbled when his wife, Megumi “May” Simione, told him in July she wanted a divorce.
Rather than give her up, Broward prosecutors say, Simione turned his home into a fortress rigged with bomb materials and filled with rifles, and tried to hire a hitman from El Salvador to kill his wife, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and his 9-month-old baby boy.
Simione, 39, was arrested Monday night, charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. He was also charged with threatening to discharge a destructive device, and child abuse.
“The court is concerned with his alleged willingness to hire a hitman to kill everyone in his family including his own child,” said Broward Circuit Court Judge John Hurley, in setting Simione’s bail at $5 million.
Simione’s massive gun and ammunition collection, was on display Tuesday in the Broward Sheriff’s Office evidence room: dozens of high-powered rifles, about a dozen handguns, stacks of ammo boxes containing more than 70,000 rounds; and a .50-caliber sniper rifle “that could put a hole through an engine block,” according to Det. Louie Rivera, who described it as a military weapon. “That’s not a gun you see every day.”
Sheriff Scott Israel said “personally this is the most weapons I have seen and certainly the most ammunition. You can’t help but think we may have averted a disaster.”
Susan Brown, Simione’s Plantation divorce lawyer, scoffs at that, saying it was Simione’s business to have guns and ammunition.
Simione is the president of Bulldog Tactical Equipment LLC, based in Dania Beach. Bulldog’s website says the company is “a leading supplier of tactical and assault equipment to government, military, and law enforcement organizations within the continental United States.’’
Its product list includes sniper accessories, weapon covers, rescue litters and “grenade/banger pouches.’’
“It sounds all dramatic, but that’s ridiculous,’’ Brown said. “That’s like a jeweler having jewelry in the house or a lawyer having law books.’’
Brown is not involved in the criminal case, but high-powered criminal defense attorney David Bogenschutz is. Bogenschutz only said he had talked to his client Tuesday evening at the jail.
According to the arrest warrant, Simione asked a Salvadoran employee of his company if he knew “people” from his native country, because of its violent gang activity, who could commit murder. He then offered the employee, who was not named, $150,000 to arrange the killings of his wife, her mother, Naoko Hitomi and brother, Kazhito Haga, and the couple’s baby, if he didn’t get custody of the child. He added that he didn’t care if the hit man raped his wife in the process, police said.
Just three weeks ago, the employee was approached again by Simione, who tagged each of his targets with code names to be used in further conversations about the contract killings, police said. He told the employee he was withdrawing cash in several denominations for payment.