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He wanted either a pistol, deputies say, or to hire someone "in the business" to kill them.

Hernando County sheriff's deputies arrested a Brooksville man Friday whom they say tried to hire someone to murder three people over a debt owed to him.

Joseph Gerald Cifelli, 66, of 11064 Carol Drive faces three counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, Cifelli approached a confidential informant on at least 12 occasions within the last month to either have the informant get him a .22-caliber pistol or get him "someone in the business" to murder the intended victims, Charles Allen, Monica Pilkuhn and Orrin Baldwin, all of Brooksville.

The informant said he attempted to talk Cifelli out of his plans, but was unsuccessful, authorities said. A Sheriff's Office report said that a recording made on one occasion by the informant showed that Cifelli intended to hire a third party to commit the murders and instructed the informant to call back with a day and time to meet to finalize the arrangements.

Because ofconcern for the safety of the intended victims, a sheriff's deputy contacted Cifelli on Friday, who agreed to meet with the deputy, the report states. After being informed of his Miranda rights, Cifelli admitted he conspired to kill Allen, Pilkuhn and Baldwin either by hiring another party to kill them or by obtaining a .22-caliber pistol and silencer to kill them himself.

County records show that Cifelli has had several recent brushes with the law. In September he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor possession of marijuana and driving while under the influence. Those cases are still pending.

Cifelli remained in the Hernando County Jail on Saturday in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Logan Neill can be reached at or 848-1435.