(SS) Jacqueline Luongo wanted her roommate’s money and was willing to kill for it, prosecutors told a Broward jury Monday.
Luongo disguised herself as the roommate to cash her checks, and hired a hit man to kill a key witness, said Assistant State Attorney Shari Tate.
Now Luongo, 46, stands to lose her life if she’s found guilty of murder — prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Luongo also faces charges of tampering with a witness in a capital case and solicitation to commit murder.
The murder victim was Patricia Viveiros, 68, who was found dead in her apartment on the 4200 block of Crystal Lake Drive in Deerfield Beach on Sept. 4, 2014. Her body had been stuffed in a garment bag that was placed in a bedroom closet. Her head was covered with a plastic bag and tape was covering her mouth and nose.
Tate told jurors that while Viveiros’ body was lying in the closet, Luongo, who had moved in only two months earlier, bought a wig to disguise herself as her roommate so she could cash insurance checks.
Luongo confided in one person, her girlfriend Maria Calderon, but Calderon told police what happened and Luongo was arrested, Tate said.
Figuring prosecutors had no case without Calderon, Tate said, Luongo enlisted the aid of a fellow Broward jail inmate to find a hit man to kill her in 2015. The inmate became an informant, and the hit man was an undercover Broward Sheriff’s detective.
Calderon, the inmate and the detective are all expected to testify against Luongo this week.
Defense lawyer Gabe Ermine told jurors that Luongo was a desperate woman, guilty of impersonating her friend to steal checks, but not guilty of murder or solicitation. “What she did, she should not have done,” Ermine said. “She’s not coming to you with clean hands in that situation. But she is not a murderer. That, she did not do.”
Ermine implied that Calderon was Viveiros’ killer who pointed deputies to Luongo to throw suspicion off herself. “Make no mistake about it,” he said. “Maria saved herself. She was never looked at as a suspect.”
As for the solicitation charge, Ermine said killing Calderon was not Luongo’s idea. He indicated that recordings would demonstrate Luongo wanted someone to beat up Calderon, but not to kill her.
Deputies are scheduled to testify Tuesday about the discovery Viveiros’ body.