Suburban Chicago business owner Daniel Dvorkin had just been ordered to pay more than $8 million to a debt collector last year when he took a lucrative but deadly proposition to a gun shop owner he knew, according to prosecutors.

Dvorkin's trial on charges for solicitation of murder-for-hire and murder conspiracy began Monday in federal court in Chicago. Dvorkin allegedly told gun shop owner, Robert Bevis, that he wanted the debt collector, Larry Meyer - co-owner of Texas 1845 LLC, to "stop breathing," Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather McShain said. Bevis told Dvorkin he "might know a hit man in Florida" but instead went to police and began wearing a wire for the FBI, prosecutors said.

Texas 1845, a commercial collector, had sued in DuPage County, Ill. in 2010 over defaulted loans in which Dvorkin listed two corporate jets as collateral. Two affiliated companies of Dan Development took out more than $9 million in loans to purchase used aircraft. Dvorkin personally guaranteed those loans.

In recorded conversations to be played for jurors, Dvorkin coached Bevis on what to tell investigators if they asked about their meetings. Dvorkin eventually told Bevis he'd found someone who would do the job cheaper and quicker and called off their deal, prosecutors said. Dvorkin's attorney, Scott Frankel, said in his opening statement that the FBI combed through Dvorkin's phone and Internet records but found no evidence of any "second hit man waiting in the wings."

Dvorkin, 75, is the owner of Dan Development Ltd. in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. and oversees a portfolio that includes properties across the Chicago area, including a three-story commercial building in the city's Lakeview neighborhood. His real estate holding company filed for bankruptcy protection this month, listing $70 million in assets, court records show.

Frankel said his client is an upstanding businessman who had made an "offhand comment" and then got scared when Bevis took him seriously. The key initial meeting between the two came before Bevis was cooperating and wearing a hidden recorder, Frankel said, and none of the subsequent recorded conversations captured Dvorkin actually soliciting a killing or paying any money toward that goal.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.