A man accused of orchestrating the murders of three members of his ex-girlfriend's family repeatedly portrayed himself as a ruthless gangster in a ploy to get an acquaintance to do the killing, DuPage County prosecutors said at a pretrial hearing Monday.
Eventually, they said, the gunman believed his family members would be killed if he didn't follow Johnny Borizov's orders.
"This is the tool the defendant used to get these murders done," Assistant State's Attorney Joe Ruggiero said.
Borizov, 31, of Willow Springs, is set to stand trial next week in the March 2010 murders of Jeffrey and Lori Kramer and their adult son Mike.
Co-defendant Jacob Nodarse has pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murdering the Kramers during a break-in at their Darien home and has agreed to testify at Borizov's trial.
In court Monday, Ruggiero said Borizov held himself out as a "wiseguy" mobster, convincing Nodarse he was "connected to people who killed, sold drugs and could get anything done criminal-wise."
Ruggiero said Borizov even claimed to work with "dirty cops" and warned that Nodarse's family was in grave danger if Nodarse didn't carry out the killing spree.
"He used repetition to the point that Jacob Nodarse believed what he was saying," Ruggiero said.
Prosecutors say Borizov wanted the Kramers dead because of a bitter child custody dispute with Jeffrey and Lori Kramer's daughter. Borizov, who was at a casino at the time of the murders, has pleaded not guilty and maintains he is innocent.
Jury selection begins April 16.