ELYRIA, Ohio — A woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill an Albany man, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge on Tuesday, an Ohio-based newspaper reports.
Irene Wlaszyn, 54, of Loraine, Ohio, was originally charged with conspiracy to commit murder after prosecutors say she attempted to hire a contract killer to murder James Eppler, an Albany Marine she believed killed her niece, the Chronicle-Telegram in Loraine, Ohio reports.
Eppler was charged in February 2011, with the death of his wife, Natalie Eppler, who was found shot to death in their home.
After his arrest and nearly 90 days in jail, Eppler was released and the charges dropped when authorities determined his wife’s death was likely a suicide.
According to the Chronicle-Telegram, Wlaszyn’s family says that she never planned to have Eppler killed and the murder-for-hire plot was a set up.
“She was definitely entrapped,” Adriana Riera, Wlaszyn’s sister, told reporters after the plea. “My sister would never harm anyone.”
The only comments from Wlaszyn herself came after she entered her plea.
“Everyone can just heal and move on, and this can just be the end,” Wlaszyn said after entering her plea.
Sentencing will be held at a later date.
According to court documents, Wlaszyn had given an informant she believed would kill Eppler $100 to purchase a gun that was supposed to be used in the murder. Wlaszyn was also believed to be prepared to pay $1,000 to the man for killing Eppler, according to the documents.
According to Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards, the official investigation into Natalie Eppler’s death is closed, however, his office has the option to bring murder charges later if new evidence is discovered.
“Murder has no statute of limitation, so if there is any new evidence, we’d be able to go back and review the evidence and determine if charges are warranted,” Edwards said. “(Suicide) was the finding of the coroner as based on the pathologist who said it was best classified as a suicide. My warrant dismissal states that there is not sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that this was an intentional homicide.”
Meanwhile, Eppler has filed suit against Edwards, Albany Police Officer Eddie Jones, the city and the county in U.S. District Court alleging they violated his civil rights by charging him and is seeking at least $5 million in compensatory damages and an undisclosed amount in punitive damages.
According to the suit, which was filed Feb. 21, Eppler contends that the defendants slandered and falsely accused and imprisoned him during their investigation of his wife’s death.