Benjamin Simmons, a 42 year old Uniondale man awaiting trial on rape charges, tried to have a key witness killed, believing doing so would free him from jail.  He detailed his plans to an undercover detective who posed as a hit man, saying he wanted the mother of his victim, who was his live-in girlfriend, murdered.  Simmons was charged yesterday with second-degree criminal solicitation, a felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison.  He has been incarcerated in Nassau County jail in East Meadow since he was indicted for first-degree rape in May 2002.  He allegedly had intercourse with the girl, who was 9 when it began, over at least a two year period.  Simmons pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday and was ordered held at the county jail on $500,000 bond.  His rape trail is scheduled to begin April 2.

(New York)