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Garden City woman pleads not guilty in hit-man plot

Susan Williams, accused of hiring a hit man

Susan Williams, accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband, leaves Nassau Police Headquarters to be arraigned on Friday. (March 5, 2010) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Garden City mother of four pleaded not guilty Friday morning to charges that she tried to hire a hit man to murder her husband amid an ugly divorce.

Susan Williams, 43, is being held on $1 million bond or $500,000 bail. If she is found guilty of second-degree criminal solicitation charges, she could face up to 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors said at Williams' arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead that they have audiotapes of Williams asking an acquaintance to connect her with a hit man. Instead, that acquaintance notified law enforcement, who sent a Nassau detective to pose as the killer for hire.

Prosecutors say they also have videotapes showing Williams negotiating the $20,000 job with the would-be hit man in his car on Feb. 28 and March 3. They said Williams paid him a $500 deposit, and gave him a photo of her husband, Peter Williams, and other identifying information. Prosecutors would not say how the man was supposed to kill Peter Williams.

"Had she been referred to a hit man, there is no doubt in my mind that her husband would be dead today," prosecutor Jane Zwirn-Turkin said.

But Williams' defense lawyer, Stanley Kopilow of Garden City, said there is more to the story than it appears.

"This case is going to have a lot of twists and turns," he said outside court. "It's not going to play out the way the district attorney thinks it's going to play out."

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