Former TV chef gets prison for plan to kill wife

LOS ANGELES Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:37pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A former TV chef who pleaded no contest to trying to hire a pair of homeless men to kill his wife for $1,000 was sentenced on Monday to nine years in state prison.

Juan Carlos Cruz, onetime host of "Calorie Commando" on the Food Network, pleaded no contest to a single count of soliciting murder on October 26, as a preliminary hearing was set to begin in the case.

As a result of his plea, a count of attempted murder was dismissed.

Prosecutors say Cruz, 48, approached two homeless men in May and offered them $500 each to kill his wife, Jennifer Campbell.

The men instead contacted the Santa Monica Police Department, which set up a sting operation to videotape Cruz arranging the murder with the men, a Los Angeles County District Attorney's spokeswoman said.

The pastry chef was seen driving one of them to his apartment and showing him how to access the secure building, the spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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