A 58-year-old man who mistakenly left a voicemail seeking a hitman to kill his adult son with a suburban dumpster rental company was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison.
Desmen Ramsey, who used a cane and struggled to walk into Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge David Matia’s courtroom, broke down in sobs as sheriff’s deputies led him from the courtroom in handcuffs after the hearing.
Matia imposed the maximum sentence after Ramsey pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a fourth-degree felony, tied to the Oct. 13, 2022 messages. Ramsey was initially charged with two counts of complicity, which carried a potential life sentence.
Ramsey said he had been drinking heavily and gotten into a dispute with his son the night he made the phone calls. He said he did not believe the plan would be carried out.
“That’s my baby boy,” he said.
He added, “I would die before I’d let anything happen to my children.”
Ramsey believed he was calling a friend who was a member of a motorcycle club, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Zach Anderson said.
Instead, he dialed the number of Budget Dumpster Company in Westlake, and left three voicemails, Anderson said.
Matia read a transcript of the messages aloud in court.
In the first message, Ramsey called his friend “Jesse” and referred to himself as “Tommy,” then named his son.
“It’s a five grand hit on him,” Ramsey said in the message. “I don’t give a f–k where he’s at or what he’s doing or who he be with. Kill that b—h.”
After leaving a second voicemail that was blank, Ramsey left a third message asking his friend to call him back “ASAP.”
“It’s business,” he said. “This ain’t bulls–t.”
The company’s employees discovered the voicemails when they showed up to work the next morning. The caller ID listed Ramsey’s name and phone number.
Matia, reading from the court’s pre-sentence investigation, said the company’s vice president first called Cleveland police to report the voicemail. Matia said Cleveland police were “less than helpful” and suggested the man reach out to the FBI field office in Cleveland. Matia said the FBI was also “also less than helpful,” so the employee called Westlake police.
Westlake detectives used cellphone tower data to track Ramsey’s phone and arrested him that day.
Anderson said Ramsey admitted to detectives after his arrest that he made the call. After detectives left the room, he said to himself that he was “headed to jail for a drunk mistake,” Anderson said.
Anderson said investigators spoke to the man Ramsey meant to call and he denied ever knowing of the plot. The man said he would never commit murder-for-hire, Anderson said.