Police: TV chef cooked up murder-for-hire plot

In this undated photo provided by the Santa Monica Police Department, Juan-Carlos Cruz is shown. Santa Monica police say Cruz, a television chef who once hosted a program on the Food Network, has been arrested for allegedly trying to solicit homeless people to commit a murder. (AP Photo/Santa Monica Police Department)

May 15, 2010 7:13:21 PM PDT
A former television chef and Food Network host is under arrest in an alleged murder-for-hire plot involving homeless people, Santa Monica police said.

Juan-Carlos Cruz, one-time host of "Calorie Commando," was arrested Thursday and booked on suspicion of solicitation to commit murder, Sgt. Jay Trisler said. He's scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

Homeless people told the city's homeless liaison officers that Cruz asked them to kill someone, Trisler said. They agreed to help police investigate the alleged murder-for-hire plot.

"They felt confident that they could divulge this information and be treated fairly and be listened to," he said.

Detectives discovered where, when and how the targeted individual was to be killed and how much money Cruz allegedly offered, Trisler said.

Police notified the intended victim, who was not identified publicly because of the ongoing investigation, he said.

Cruz, 48, is being held on $5 million bail. Trisler said his bail was raised because of information discovered during the investigation.

He did not know if Cruz had hired an attorney. Attempts to reach Cruz were not successful.

He was the pastry chef at Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, made custom wedding-cakes and spoke about low-calorie cooking at health fairs, according to the biography on his book, "The Juan-Carlos Cruz Calorie Countdown Cookbook."