crimesider

Did Juan-Carlos Cruz, Food Network Star, Hire Homeless Men to Kill Wife?

Juan-Carlos Cruz (AP/Santa Monica Police Dept.)

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) Did Food Network star Juan-Carlos Cruz cook up a plot to hire homeless men to kill his wife?

According to police, the "Calorie Commando" scouted Santa Monica, Calif., hoping to find a hit man among the homeless.

Rather than take the $1,000 offer, the three men he approached, tipped off police, who put them up in a hotel room with food and booze.

"They gave us two pizzas, a 12-pack of beer and a bottle of San Jose," Big Dave, one of the men, told CNN. "I love them."

Investigators have not revealed Cruz's alleged target, but TMZ caught up with the homeless men, Big Dave, Little Dave and Shane, who said they were hired to kill Cruz's wife Jennifer Campbell.

Police confirmed to CNN that the men TMZ interviewed are the chief witnesses against Cruz.

According to TMZ, the men agreed to record conversations with Cruz as detectives launched an undercover investigation.

"I had a recorder in my pocket and they were listening and watching," one of them told TMZ.

Cruz was arrested Thursday in a local dog park. Those who know him say this is a bizarre turn for the reality TV star. He began his career as a pastry chef at the posh Hotel Bel-Air. He became a Food Network star in 2004 and later published his own cookbook. His wife, Jennifer Campbell, was his high school sweetheart.

Police have not revealed a motive for the alleged crime. If convicted, Cruz faces up to nine years in prison.

He is being held on $5 million bail.