NORTH PORT — Janeene Lea Jones — the so-called “Black Widow” who tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband and another person in connection with an alleged wide- ranging real estate scam that bilked families out of thousands of dollars — faces numerous additional charges this week.

Jones, 50, and husband Matthew Smith, 27, now face an additional 33 charges each, ranging from burglary to criminal use of identification to operating as an unlicensed real estate agent, following an investigation by North Port Police detectives.

According to reports, the duo would find abandoned or foreclosed homes around the city, drill the locks, make minor repairs, then advertise the homes as rental properties on Craigslist.

North Port police began investigating the two in connection with the real estate scheme, but Jones then came under fire from the Sarasota Police Department when she tried to hire an undercover detective to kill Smith and John Chamber–lain, who was working as a handyman for their faulty property management company “My Retirement LLC.” Jones offered to pay $8,000 for both deaths, according to reports.

Jones was first arrested in February and Smith was later picked up in connection with the real estate case. The pair may have allegedly swindled as much as $50,000 out of unsuspecting families.

Jones is charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder. Smith had previously been charged with burglary and fraud charges prior to the new extensive set of charges levied against both husband and wife.

NPPD Capt. Tony Sirianni praised the work of the detectives, saying this is the first time a real estate operation of this scale has been investigated in the city. Each of the new 33 charges brings with it an added $20,000 bond amount for each charge, Sirianni said, although Jones remains in the Sarasota County Jail without bond for the murder-solicitation charges.

“Countless man hours have gone into this investigation,” Sirianni said. “Our fraud division and detectives bureau have worked for months, tediously, on this case.”

Assistant State Attorney Ericka Quartermaine, the lead prosecutor on both real estate cases, could not comment on the new charges, saying she’s not allowed to comment on open cases. It’s unclear how these new charges will affect the trials for Jones and Smith, which are scheduled to begin Sept. 9.

Attorneys for Smith and Jones could also not be reached for comment. A trial date has not been scheduled for Jones’ murder-solicitation charges, but a case management conference is planned for Tuesday.

Jones previously worked as a corrections officer for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, before an internal affairs investigation revealed she was having a relationship with an inmate. Jones’ previous husband Max Jones died from health complications in 2011. Authorities have called Max’s death suspicious.



Matthew Reilly Smith

Janeene Lea Jones





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