Charles Waldo faces life in prison if convicted on the dozens of counts against him.
Charles Waldo was arrested in 2013 on charges he committed car insurance fraud and embezzled more than $100,000 from a local hauling company.
But as Waldo sat in jail, the case changed dramatically when he was indicted for allegedly trying to recruit fellow inmates to kill nine witnesses against him.
Now, as his trial begins, this is how prosecutor Dominique Yancy described Waldo.
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"If you cross the defendant in any way, shape or form there will be payback and a reckoning," Yancy said in court Monday.
According to prosecutors, the 39-year-old Martinez man had a list of names and suggested methods of death including drug overdoses, staged car accidents and even a robbery gone wrong.
In his opening statement, Waldo's defense attorney Christopher Martin told jurors the murder for hire case is a sham.
"The jail in Contra Costa County is effectively a rat's nest. It's loaded with career informants," said Martin.
Waldo's trial on 60 criminal counts is expected to last several months.