Over the last month, Bryant Budi of Matthews went online to hire a hit man to kill a Charlottean man he considered his enemy, newly unsealed court documents reveal.
Then he arranged to buy a radioactive substance, which he had shipped to the home of a Charlotte friend. His plan was to sprinkle it on his target’s food, according to court documents.
In both cases, the 26-year-old thought he was dealing with contract killers and arms traders on the dark web. In reality, he was exchanging online messages and phone texts with undercover operatives from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
Budi was arrested Saturday when he showed up at a college friend’s house to pick up the radioactive material, which was instead an inert substance substituted and shipped by the FBI, documents say.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The 26-year-old Budi is now being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail. The charge: Use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. If convicted, Budi faces up to 10 years in prison.
Budi, who attended N.C. State, does not appear to have a previous criminal record.
But an affidavit by Christopher Nasca, a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, details a bizarre plot in which Budi allegedly twice tries to take his revenge on an unnamed Charlotte man who Budi says “has been making my life a living hell and extorting me for a year.”
Excerpts from what the affidavit says are Budi’s online communications with the federal agents indicate that he tried to hire a hit man before and had already tried to poison his target on at least one other occasion.
“I tried to poison him with something else, but it tasted bitter as soon as he took a swig at it he threw up,” Budi said, according the affidavit.
Budi began shopping for an assassin in late April, using a website that serves as a market for illegal drugs, counterfeit goods and weapons, the affidavit states.
Unknown to him, Budi began negotiating with an undercover Homeland Security agent stationed in New York. The two went back and forth on what it would take to have Budi’s enemy killed, according to the affidavit.
In one online exchange, Budi offered to pay $4,000 for the hit, but questioned whether he could trust the agent to carry out the plot.
“The previous person I hired didn’t do the job and left with my money,” Budi wrote, according to the affidavit, “so I am just making sure that I am not getting into the same hole again.”
In subsequent conversations, Budi asked the Homeland Security agent to make the killing look like a robbery. Later he suggested that the killing be carried out so that it appeared his enemy had simply disappeared.
“he is 30 years old. lives in apt in Charlotte, NC. goes only to dollar tree and gas station (doesn’t go anywhere). doesn’t know fighting skill,” Budi wrote, according to the affidavit. “basically make it look like robbery went wrong. don’t care what weapon you use, as long as you get it done.”
During the same time period Bud was negotiating for a contract killer, he used the website to arrange a backup: a lethal dose of a radioactive substance that he intended to use against the same individual, the affidavit says. This time he was dealing with an undercover FBI employee.
“do you sell ricin as well? basically I want to use it for you know ... how much is a lethal dosage?” Budi wrote on April 26, according to the affidavit. “how long would it take for a person to die if he/she ingest that? how much could I get for $500.”
Two weeks ago, Budi texted the agent the Charlotte address of a friend of his from college who was cooperating with the FBI, the affidavit states. The inert substance arrived Thursday.
On Friday, Budi met in Charlotte with his college friend before noon to pick up his package, the affidavit says. He was arrested shortly afterward.
Staff writer Ames Alexander contributed.
Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095; @MikeGordonOBS