A pediatrician in Kentucky allegedly tried to hire a hitman to kill her former husband, and it isn’t the first time she’s faced such an accusation, WAVE-TV reports.
Authorities on Thursday arrested 52-year-old Stephanie Russell on a charge of using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Prosecutors allege that this past Sunday, Russell contacted someone she believed would murder her ex-husband in exchange for payment. In fact, that individual was not a hitman but an undercover FBI agent.
Russell agreed to spend $7,000 on the hit and paid $3,500 upfront, supplying the money in a drop box near her medical office. She was planning to pay the remaining half following the successful completion of the killing, according to WLKY-TV.
Court records show that Russell was previously accused of attempting to hire a hitman to end her former husband’s life several years ago, according to WAVE-TV. The allegations arose amid a bitter custody dispute over the pair’s two children.
A judge ruled in 2020 that Russell should lose custody of the children after a guardian ad litem – a court-appointed representative of the children – accused the physician of “coaching” the kids, inflicting “emotional harm” and trying to hire someone to kill the children’s father in 2018, WAVE-TV reports, citing court documents.
Lawyers for Russell denied the murder-for-hire plot, calling it “preposterous” in litigation against the judge, according to the television station.
The judge held that the father should have temporary full custody of the kids.
On Friday, Russell made an initial court appearance before a federal magistrate judge. Further hearings are scheduled for May 24.
Russell faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
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[Feature Photo: Stephanie Russell/Oldham County Detention Center]