Public Safety

Former Traer man sentenced to 20 years for murder-for-hire scheme

Judge said he would have increased his prison time if guidelines allowed

Jason Harriman
Jason Harriman

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal judge last week sentenced a man, formerly from Traer and Independence, to 20 years in prison for a murder-for-hire plot targeting his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams, who called Jason Troy Harriman “dangerous, narcissistic and manipulative,” said he would give him more prison time if the sentencing guidelines would allow. Harriman has shown no remorse over his plan to hire a hit man last year, Williams said.

Harriman, 44, who represented himself during sentencing last Tuesday, repeatedly denied committing the crime and asked for less prison time, claiming he never planned to kill the boyfriend. He said the undercover agent, posing as the hit man, “pushed him into it.”

Harriman said he regretted making the phone “threats” while in prison. But he told the judge he had no control while being locked up and had no contact with his children because his ex-wife kept them from him, which Harriman said is the reason the incident happened.

Harriman also argued against an enhancement for obstruction of justice — meaning more prison time. He said it shouldn’t be applied because he didn’t lie at his trial.

Williams said Harriman’s testimony was false and inconsistent with the evidence. Harriman had the right to go to trial and testify, but “you don’t have the right to lie on the stand.” Harriman told an “unbelievable story” and the enhancement is appropriate, the judge said.

The facts were “egregious” and the evidence was “disturbing,” Williams said. He said Harriman was abusive and manipulative of his ex-wife and son, and the way he verbally abused his son during calls from prison was “sickening.”


The undercover agent gave Harriman many chances to back out and even said no action would be taken without Harriman signing a contract, and Harriman signed it, Williams pointed out. Harriman even asked the hired killer to videotape the murders, so he could watch later, the judge noted.

Harriman has a history of substance abuse and has been in prison most of his life, Williams said. He has 30 convictions, and five of those are violent assaults.

The evidence at trial showed that in 2011, Harriman was sentenced to serve 15 years in federal prison for unlawfully possessing a gun and ammunition. While in federal prison, Harriman made multiple phone calls and sent multiple emails to a person he thought was a hired killer, but actually was an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

After meeting with the “hit man” in person in the prison, Harriman signed a contract for his ex-wife and her boyfriend, who lived in northeast Iowa, to be killed, according to testimony.

Harriman agreed to pay $21,000 and already had given the hired killer a 1969 Dodge Charger as a down payment. During a later phone conversation with the undercover agent, Harriman asked him to photograph and record the murders.

The 20 years will run consecutively to Harriman’s previous gun conviction, which he still is serving.

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