LAX COURTHOUSE — Juan-Carlos Cruz, the former host of the Food Network show “Calorie Commando,” pleaded not guilty Monday to attempted murder and solicitation of murder, authorities said.
Cruz allegedly tried to hire three Santa Monica homeless men to slash his wife’s throat, sources said. The bail was set at $2 million, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 23.
Cruz was arrested last week in a Cheviot Hills dog park after one of the homeless men he allegedly tried to enlist in the plot contacted Santa Monica police.
Little Dave, one of the homeless men believed to have been contacted by Cruz, told celebrity news agency TMZ that the chef asked him to “cut (a) woman’s throat” and promised to pay $1,000 for the completed task. Cruz then allegedly provided Little Dave a box cutter, a disposable cell phone, gloves and a pocket watch, TMZ reported.
Little Dave then told his friend Shane, who told another homeless man named Big Dave, of the plan. The three homeless men met Cruz in Santa Monica where he allegedly showed them a picture of the target, his wife Jennifer Campbell, according to TMZ.
At the meeting, Cruz allegedly told the homeless men he wanted them to jump his wife as she got in a car at a location Cruz picks her up at every day. They were then supposedly to slit her throat, TMZ reported.
When Big Dave got arrested on a loitering charge, he told police of Cruz’ plan. Police then asked for the homeless men’s cooperation in busting Cruz, and during a meeting sometime last week, Big Dave was wired, and a nearby policeman was videotaping the meeting, according to TMZ.
During that meeting, Big Dave said he told Cruz he did not want to kill the woman in public, so Cruz told them he would give them the code to his apartment, and they could strangle the target as she walked in, according to TMZ.
Cruz is most known for his work hosting the Food Network Series “Calorie Commando,” which showed how to prepare meals with less calories that retained all the flavor of the high calorie originals. The show began in 2004 and was canceled in 2006.
Food Network did not comment on the charges because they have no current relationship with Cruz, according to the Associated Press.