FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2016
COVINGTON—A St. Tammany Parish judge sentenced Carlos Rodriguez, 45, formerly of Kenner, to a mandatory life sentence Thursday (July 7) for carrying out a plot with his girlfriend to kill her husband in 2009. Rodriguez had been found guilty of first degree murder in May, after a weeklong trial and jury deliberations that lasted just 23 minutes.
District Judge August J. Hand issued the sentence after a statement by Valerie Scramuzza Dirks, the sister of Mario Scramuzza, the Lacombe Fire District paramedic who was strangled to death in the laundry room of his Covington Home.
“I spent years watching my mom grieve the loss of her son,” Dirks said. “I watched my dad die of a broken heart.” Dirks also talked of raising her nephew, who was 13 when his father was murdered and his mother, Gina Scramuzza, was arrested and charged in the murder-for-hire scheme to kill her husband. Gina Scramuzza pleaded guilty to first degree murder in 2013 and is also serving a life sentence. Dirks said she “taught a young man to drive,” pinned on his boutonniere for prom, and took him to college orientation. Yet, it hurt to look in his eyes and see the pain of his knowing that she was not his mother or father, she said.
“As a man today, that boy terribly misses his dad,” Dirks said. Dirks also expressed sorrow for Rodriguez’s children and said she prays she can forgive him someday. “It’s what God would want us to do,” she said. “It’s what I will work hard to do.”
The Rodriguez sentencing was the final chapter in a chilling saga that began when Gina Scramuzza met Rodriguez at East Jefferson General Hospital, where she worked as a C.A.T. scan technician. The two quickly began a relationship, and she spent lavishly on him, buying him a cell phone so that they could talk secretly and a red Hummer. She complained that her husband was abusive, and when Rodriguez offered to help her “get rid of him,” she gave him $3,400 in cash—$1,700 on two different occasions—to carry out the plan.
Rodriguez recruited two accomplices, and on the afternoon of Feb. 27, 2009, Gina Scramuzza met Rodriguez and his helpers, Luis Hernandez and Erly Montoya, in the parking lot of the Wal Mart in Covington. She stopped at the bank, paid each of the accomplices $500, drove to her home, and left them there to wait for her husband.
Hernandez and Montoya testified that they were unaware of the murder plot and thought they were just going to burglarize the house, so they rounded up various electronics and other items they wanted. When Mario Scramuzza made it home, he was ambushed at gunpoint and strangled by Rodriguez.
Hernandez was found guilty of first degree murder in 2012 and received a life sentence. Montoya, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery with a firearm, was sentenced to 35 years in the Department of Corrections on June 16. Rodriguez’s life sentence is without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
Assistant District Attorneys Joey Oubre, Blake Peters, and Jerry Smith prosecuted the case.