Crime & Courts

Big E’s co-owner indicted in love triangle murder-for-hire plot pleads guilty

A 70-year-old Oklahoma and Kansas vapor shop owner who tried to hire a hit man to rough-up his ex-lover and kill her new boyfriend pleaded guilty Wednesday in the murder plot, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

Vernon Wayne Brock, a co-owner in Big E’s Vapor Shop at the time of his April indictment, faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised released when he is sentenced, the release says. No firm date for the sentencing was immediately announced. But the Justice Department said it should take place in about 90 days.

Big E’s Vapor Shop has 13 locations in Kansas including seven in Wichita, three in Oklahoma and one in Missouri, according to its website. Brock bought into Big E’s as the company sought to expand its e-cigarette and vaping business in 2013, The Eagle previously reported.

At the time of his indictment, Brock also identified himself on Facebook as the the owner of Pure Country Medical Cannabis in Waynoka, Oklahoma.

Brock pleaded guilty in an Oklahoma federal court to one count of using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire scheme on Wednesday morning. Court documents say Brock wanted his former lover, who is also an ex-employee, and her new beau murdered on her birthday — April 5 — because he was mad that she’d quit her job and stopped having sex with him.

He asked a Wichita-area business partner he knew belonged to an “outlaw motorcycle gang” to kill the couple or find someone who would for $5,000, the documents say.

He then cut a check from the Big E’s Vapor Shop account to pay for it and sent the business partner a photo of the woman’s boyfriend, saying “that’s the guy we want dead.”

Brock also talked at one point of wanting his ex-lover roughed up instead of killed, saying to the business partner: “Are they going to thump her around a little bit? And do him? Cause that’s what I wanted.”

But instead of carrying out the hit, the business partner alerted the FBI office in Wichita to the plan.

Under the watch of undercover agents, the business partner met with Brock at a Harper, Kansas, cafe on April 3 to get the $5,000 check from him.

Authorities arrested Brock a few miles outside of Alva, Oklahoma, as he was driving back home from the transaction.

In his plea, Brock admitted that he crossed state lines and used facilities of interstate commerce — specifically a cellphone and a pickup truck — intending for the murders to take place in exchange for the $5,000 fee, the Justice Department said in the news release.

Asked on his petition to the court to plead guilty what his reasons were for making a plea agreement with prosecutors, Brock wrote that he wanted “to accept responsibility for my actions.”

He has been in federal custody since his April arrest.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.