Phoenix Businessman Sentenced To Big House In Murder-For-Hire Scheme, Other Felonies

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Robert Arcieri, a former Phoenix businessman and exceptionally devious criminal who was on the lam for a quarter-century, was sentenced to ten years in prison this morning.

Arcieri in the 1980s before he "drowned"

​The 73-year-old was sentenced by Commissioner Carolyn Passamonte after plea bargaining to the following charges:

--Two counts of solicitation to commit murder.

--Three counts of conspiring to commit burglary and/or theft.

--One count of armed robbery.

Phoenix police arrested Arcieri on June 1, 2011, at his Palm Springs, California, home, shortly after Maricopa County grand jurors returned an indictment that included a 1984 attempted murder-for-hire case and several other major felonies.

Jim Keppel, a veteran prosecutor who now heads the criminal division of the Arizona Attorney General's Office, told us shortly after Arcieri's arrest that a tip from a citizen alerted authorities to the guy's whereabouts. Keppel was the deputy county attorney in charge of the case back in the 1980s.

This was a good one.

In January 1987, Arcieri, a nephew of his and two friends were on a fishing trip on the Colorado River when he apparently fell overboard and disappeared--for almost 25 years.

The pretzel company owner was facing numerous charges at the time, including the murder-for-hire scheme (the intended victim was a onetime business associate), and robberies of upscale residences that netted him and others hundreds of thousands of dollars in property.

Two of Arcieri's onetime criminal associates plea-bargained back in the 1980s and served time in prison. The pair were set to testify against him if the recently concluded case had gone to trial.

Here's another twist to this case:

We were told some time ago that Arcieri's family members collected more than $700,000 in life-insurance benefits after his supposed "death." It isn't clear what recourse, if any, the insurance companies had after learning that he was very much alive and living the life in good old Palm Springs.

The Arcieri case was profiled in an early 1990s episode of Unsolved Mysteries (Remember that that was one of the few true-crime shows on the tube? Now....dozens).

In the piece, now-retired Phoenix police detective Larry Flick speculated that Arcierfi had been "looking at spending the rest of his life behind bars, [which] resulted in [him] making some hard choices. And that was either facing them or feigning his death, and I believe he took the latter."

Detective Flick was absolutely right.

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