LI woman accused of hiring hitman to kill husband

A surveillance picture from the Nassau County District Attorney's office of Susan Williams allegedly giving a photo of her husband to an undercover cop posing as a hit man.

March 5, 2010 4:02:10 PM PST
A Garden City mother of four is being held on one-million dollars bail -- accused of hiring a hitman to kill her husband. With striking long dark black hair, 43-year-old Susan Williams kept her head bowed low as she left Nassau County police headquarters on Friday.

Susan Williams, 43, was arrested by Nassau County police after she allegedly agreed to pay the hitman $20,000 to murder her soon to be ex-husband, Peter Williams.

The hitman was actually an undercover detective.

"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," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice explained. "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.'"

The person who turned her in is Joe LaBalla, a retired NYPD detective and now a private investigator. He was hired by Williams in 2008 to dig up information during her messy divorce. He says she called him out of the blue last month and asked if he knew of anyone who could hurt her husband.

According to prosecutors, Williams approached LaBalla on February 19 and informed him that she wanted to have her husband killed. She asked the man to arrange it. Instead, LaBalla contacted the Nassau County District Attorney's Office.

Four days later, LaBalla called Williams to let her know that he could set up a meeting with a hitman on February 28. Williams agreed.

LaBalla went to the District Attorney, which led to two meetings with an undercover Nassau County Detective. Williams' believed the detective was a hitman, according to Rice.

At the meeting, authorities said Williams, who was being recorded, stated that she and her husband were divorcing and she wanted him dead. The undercover detective who was posing as the hitman told Williams the hit would cost $20,000.

Authorities recorded a 20 minute video on Wednesday when Rice said Williams paid $500 down on the 20-thousand dollar hit.

"That this defendant so casually decided to organize the murder of her husband shocks the conscience," Rice said. "She was given numerous opportunities to call this off, yet she pursued it vigorously until the very end."

"I understand that we have audio tapes. What I'm more concerned about is what happened before those tapes," said Stanley Kopilow, Williams' Attorney.

Williams' father is retired from NYPD major case squad.

Peter Williams could not be reached at his office in Lynbrook.

"Simultaneous to the arrest of his soon to be ex-wife, he was notified about what was happening. He was given the option of getting an order of protection," Rice said.

Williams is charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree and Criminal Solicitation in the Second Degree. She faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.