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Former TV chef accused in murder-for-hire plot

By Alan Duke, CNN
  • Police: TV chef Juan Carlos Cruz accused of trying to hire homeless to kill
  • Cruz is being held on $5 million bail
  • He hosted "Calorie Commando" on Food Network

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Juan-Carlos Cruz, the former host of Food Network's "Calorie Commando" is accused of plotting to hire homeless people to carry out a murder, California police said Friday night.

The Santa Monica Police Department did not release details about the intended target or the alleged murder plot.

The plan fell apart when the homeless people Cruz allegedly recruited told officers with the Santa Monica Police Department's Homeless Liaison Program, authorities said.

"We're very fortunate that we have a relationship and rapport with some of the homeless and that they were able to give us information," Santa Monica police Sgt. Jay Trisler said.

An undercover investigation, which began on May 7, revealed the murder-for-hire method, where and when the individual was to be killed and the terms of payment, Trisler said.

Cruz was arrested at a dog park in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, on Thursday afternoon, he said.

Cruz, who is being held on a $5 million bail on a charge of solicitation to commit murder, is expected to make a first appearance in court Monday.

Cruz, a Los Angeles resident, was an overweight pastry chef at Hotel Bel Air until he changed his focus to promote low-calorie recipes.

When his "Calorie Countdown" show debuted on the Food Network in 2004, he claimed to have lost 100 pounds by eating his own cooking.

He authored "The Juan-Carlos Cruz Calorie Countdown Cookbook: A 5-Week Eating Strategy for Sustainable Weight Loss," which was published in 2007. Cruz is no longer listed among the celebrity chefs on the Food Network website.