Zecca, who admitted trying to hire a hitman to kill a Keys Realtor, gets his sentencing delayed

Dennis Zecca faces 10 years in prison.
Dennis Zecca faces 10 years in prison.

A former U.S. Coast Guard commanding officer who admitted to trying to hire a hitman to kill a Middle Keys Realtor has had his sentencing pushed back a month.

Dennis Zecca, facing 10 years in federal prison, is now scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez at 9:30 a.m. April 14 in District Court's Courtroom 1 at 301 Simonton St., Key West.

He had been scheduled for March 25. A Wednesday court filing doesn't say who requested the delay or why.

Zecca, a former commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Islamorada, admitted in federal court in November that he tried to hire a hitman to kill Marathon Realtor Bruce Schmitt (he was not injured). The hired gun turned out to be a federal informant.

In return for his guilty plea to murder for hire, the U.S. Attorney's Office dropped charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and transfer of a firearm to a convicted felon.

If he didn't plead out, Zecca could have faced life if convicted.

After 26 years with the Coast Guard culminating with his Islamorada post, Zecca became part-owner of the Marathon Marina and Boatyard.

He was arrested Dec. 21, 2012, for attempting to pay an employee -- a federal informant who is a convicted felon -- $20,000 or a kilo of cocaine to murder Schmitt. No one has ever said what the incentive was, and Schmitt says he has no idea.

Federal authorities say the murder plot had "associates and co-conspirators in this offense" but have not said who they are. That information could come out at his sentencing.

The hit was supposed to take place while Schmitt left a Christmas party.

Zecca was arrested after the informant, who was wearing a wire for the feds, showed Zecca a doctored photo of Schmitt lying in a pool of blood and as Zecca was going to get $5,000 of the $20,000 payment for the hit.

Zecca had given the informant a 9mm Beretta to kill Schmitt.

A search of Zecca's Indigo Reef condo in Marathon following his arrest turned up a safe containing four handguns, four rifles, two shotguns, lots of ammunition and $42,600 in cash, the feds said.

Zecca's wife Mary worked as a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Schmitt, owned by Schmitt's family. She was fired after her husband's arrest.