A Long Island mother of four charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill her estranged husband asked an undercover detective if she should attend his funeral and wondered how she should act when police tell her he had been killed, prosecutors said today.
Susan Williams, 43, of Garden City, Long Island was arrested March 4, after police say she allegedly tried to hire a hit man for $20,000
The allegations were made during a bond hearing at a Nassau County courthouse today where a judge denied a request to lower Williams' $1 million bail.
According to a statement from Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, on Feb. 19, Williams approached a confidential source and told him she wanted to have her husband, Peter Williams, murdered and she wanted the source to arrange the murder. However, instead of finding a hit man, the source contacted the DA's office.
That source turns out to be Joe La Bella, a retired New York City police detective, now a private investigator at East Coast Investigative Services.
"I was a little taken back, insulted that she would ask me something like that when she knew I was a retired detective," La Bella told ABC News.
"She hired me in May of 2008 to do an investigation," La Bella said. "She was in the process of starting the divorce procedure and she hired me to drum up some dirt on her husband."
But La Bella said he ended his investigation after finding no incriminating information on Peter Williams, but out of the blue, La Bella says Susan Williams wanted to meet again.
"A friend of hers contacted me three weeks ago and said Susan wants to meet. We made an appointment and met at a diner -- that's where we first talked about this," La Bella said about the alleged murder plot.
According to La Bella, Williams began venting about her husband and the divorce at their meeting before asking him if he knew of anybody who could do her husband harm.
At that point, La Bella said he went into "detective mode" to engage Williams about what she wanted to do. According to him, she soon switched her idea from harming her husband into murdering him.
La Bella went to the DA with this information and set up a meeting with Williams on Feb. 23, and prosecutors say she while she was under audio surveillance, La Bella told Williams he could arrange a meeting with a hit man.
"The conversations that this defendant had were very clear. In the beginning, it was 'I want him seriously injured.' And that turned into 'I want him gone. I want him gone,'" Rice told ABC's WABC-TV in New York. "At one point, when the person says to her, 'do you want him dead?' She says, 'I can't say that word, but she nods her head up and down,'" Rice said.
On Feb. 28, Williams met with a person she was allegedly told was a hit man, and during that meeting, according to Rice's office, Williams said she and her husband were in the middle of divorce proceedings and she wanted him dead. The "hit man" was actually an undercover Nassau County police detective.
According to Rice, the undercover detective informed Williams it would cost $20,000 to have her husband killed. The DA's office statement says at a March 3 meeting after being "given numerous opportunities to back out," Williams handed over a photo of her husband, his home and work address, license plate number and a $500 down payment for the hit to be carried out.