As every great mobster knows, the surefire way to prove your innocence is by silencing your prime witness. Preferably via pay-off, intimidation, or, if all else fails, calling a hit on them. So if former Queens limo driver Rajeev Kumar wanted us to think he was innocent of raping a grad student, he's doing an exemplary job of it by trying (and failing) to hire a hit man to kill her. And the whole endeavor was allegedly aided by a photo of the accuser he received from his perfectly-named defense lawyer, Nelson Schmukler.

Kumar, 30, currently a resident of Rikers Island, is accused of raping the grad student in August 2000 after offering to give her a lift home from S.O.B.'s. Kumar wasn't fingered for the crime until this summer, after he torched his limousine in the hopes of collecting insurance money. He had to submit a DNA sample after admitting to the arson, and his genetic profile matched the rape kit from the 2000 incident. A law enforcement source told the News that Kumar was in denial about being caught: "He thought he had gotten away with the rape all these years. Then he was caught and he just couldn't accept it."

So Kumar put the word out on Rikers that he would pay someone to "get rid of his problem." A cop posing as a hit man met with Kumar, who said he would pay $15,000 for the job. Kumar didn't know where the victim lived, but creepily did know where she graduated from, and had a photo of her. Investigators believe he got the info from his lawyer Schmukler, since the photo was in an evidence file turned over to him. (Schmukler declined to comment on the case.) So in addition to the sex assault charge, Kumar now faces a conspiracy rap. For what it's worth, his baby-mama doesn't believe he could have called the hit, considering his moral fortitude: "Fifteen grand? He doesn't have 15 dollars...He blew all his money on drink and gambling. It's all lies."