Is Jason Dennis Simione a dangerous, explosive gun freak and bigot who plotted to murder his young wife, her mother, brother, and his own 9-month-old son?
Or is he just a loudmouthed, macho muscle head with apocalyptic paranoia who says outrageous things to make people cringe but would never harm the child he adored?
Simione, 39, of Dania Beach, isn’t in a position to explain himself. He’s behind bars in Broward County, unable to post the $5 million-plus bail for three counts of solicitation to commit murder, one count of child abuse, possession of bomb-making materials, and felony animal cruelty.
Authorities say Simione offered $150,000 to one of his employees to hire a hit man from El Salvador, someone familiar with gang violence and bomb making, to off his family. And if the hit man raped his wife before killing her, the witness said, that would be fine by Simione.
Nonsense, says Simione’s divorce attorney, Susan Brown. Jason Simione is crazy in love with 28-year-old Megumi “May” Simione, and although he’s locked up due to her complaint, he is worried about her and won’t say a bad word about her.
May Simione, on the other hand, filed a restraining order against her husband shortly before his arrest Monday, saying he’s bipolar, and a threat to her and their son.
Plenty of people seem eager to speak for Simione, offering opinions and recollections that bolster the more benign interpretation of their friend than the sinister one his wife, her relatives and police have offered.
Many are in law enforcement or were colleagues on the Hollywood Fire Department, where Simione worked for 15 years before founding a company that makes weapons-related accessories for the military and rescue squads.
On the other side: May Simione’s own words to investigators and judges, police reports that his mother filed in 2006, May’s brother, who spoke to a Miami Herald reporter in two lengthy interviews, and plenty of witnesses who overheard Simione saying President Barack Obama should be assassinated because he is black.
One of the people on Simione’s alleged hit-list was his brother-in-law, Kazhito “Kazu” Haga, who called the couple’s relationship “rocky from the start.” While Jason Simione bragged to his buddies that he met May, a pole-dancer and stripper, while on vacation in Hawaii, Haga says the couple met when May was working as a restaurant server in a Kona resort.
“He told her how beautiful she was and they struck up a conversation,” said Haga.
Yes, his sister has a stripper pole at her Dania Beach home, but she uses it for exercise, not to titillate men.
Simione may have claimed that he bought his beautiful wife her breast implants, but Haga says his sister already had them before she met Simione — not that it’s anybody’s business.
May’s family arrived in the United States from Japan in 1987, when she was 2. She moved to Hawaii about nine years ago.
May and Jason maintained a long-distance relationship about which Haga said his family had concerns.
“But we didn’t want to stand in the way of them being together,” said Haga, who works as a non-violence trainer in California. “Love is love.”
His sister described Simione as successful, self-made and loyal, character traits upon which his friends and detractors agree.