A convicted murderer was arraigned Tuesday on charges that he plotted from prison to hire someone to kidnap and torture the prosecutor in his 1994 trial in the love-triangle killing of a Manhasset medical student.
Chandran Nathan is serving a sentence of 37 1⁄2 years to life in upstate Shawangunk Correctional Facility for the 1993 killing of a 20-year-old medical student, Shaleen Wadhwani, in the doorway of his Manhasset home.
He was arraigned on a charge of second-degree criminal solicitation in Nassau County Court Tuesday morning.
Nathan, 59, pleaded not guilty in the kidnapping plot, in which prosecutors allege he offered $10,000 to pay someone to kidnap former Nassau Assistant District Attorney Fred Klein, who prosecuted Nathan 22 years ago. Nassau prosecutors said they learned of the plot through a tip.
Klein, now a law professor at Hofstra University, declined to comment and referred questions to the district attorney’s office.
Wadhwani’s father, Narain Wadhwani, said by phone Tuesday that he was “dumbfounded” to hear of Nathan’s alleged plot.
“That is terrible,” said Narain Wadhwani, 85, and now living in Queens. “Klein was so good. He handled the case very brilliantly. We really appreciated it at the time.”
Nathan, who was married, was jealous that Wadhwani had become engaged to family friend Hema Sakhrani, a woman he wanted for himself, prosecutors said at trial. Nathan shot Wadhwani 11 times with an assault rifle on May 26, 1993.
Distraught over her fiance’s death, Sakhrani jumped to her death two days after the slaying from the 16th floor of her family’s apartment in Queens.
Nathan was convicted of second-degree murder at his trial, during which Nathan’s attorney unsuccessfully argued his client was not responsible because he was mentally ill.
Assistant District Attorney Anne Donnelly, deputy chief of the Rackets and Enterprise Crime Bureau, said in court Tuesday that Nathan had “no remorse” for the murder.
According to prosecutors, Nathan tried to hire someone to abduct Klein off the street, then handcuff and assault him. He allegedly requested that Klein be beaten — but not on the face — and be waterboarded to get him to give a videotaped statement that Nathan’s murder confession, used at trial, was not legal evidence because it was coerced, prosecutors said.
Nathan, according to prosecutors, wanted Klein to give a videotaped statement that several other confessions he used as evidence in cases that he handled were “coerced and tainted” so that law enforcement wouldn’t connect Nathan to the kidnapping.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty ordered Nathan remanded and issued an order of protection, barring Nathan from contacting Klein.
Nathan’s defense attorney, Stephen G. Murphy of Brooklyn, said outside of court that his client wants to get out of prison to care for his mother, who has cancer. Nathan is not eligible for parole until 2030, Murphy said.
“His motivation basically was he exhausted all of his appeals and I think he should be examined to determine his stability,” said Murphy, saying his client should undergo a psychological exam.
Nathan is due back in court on Dec. 15. He faces up to 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
“This case is a reminder of the difficult and dangerous jobs that law enforcement professionals do every day,” Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “We will continue to work to ensure their safety and those who attempt to tamper with our prosecutions will be held accountable.”
Sakhrani’s mother declined to comment when reached by phone.