HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A woman charged with hiring a hit man to kill her ex-husband during a bitter child custody dispute was sentenced Monday to five years of probation in a plea deal.
Tiffany Stevens, 39, was sentenced in Hartford Superior Court eight months after a jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared in her attempted-murder case. The hit was never carried out.
Simsbury police arrested Stevens in July 2012, alleging she paid a handyman $5,000 to kill her ex-husband, Eric Stevens. Authorities said the handyman instead disclosed the plan to the ex-husband, who told police.
Police said Eric Stevens had told them that whoever won custody of his daughter would control a $50 million fund, but Tiffany Stevens' father testified that was untrue. And despite an attempted murder against Tiffany Stevens, a state family court judge never revoked her custody of her daughter.
Tiffany Stevens, a former Bloomfield resident who now lives in Long Island, just east of New York, pleaded guilty to a reduced felony charge of inciting injury to persons. She would face up to 10 years in prison if she violates the conditions of her probation, which include having no contact with Eric Stevens. She had faced up to 20 years in prison under the attempted-murder charge.
Eric Stevens said he hasn't seen his daughter in nearly four years because his ex-wife hasn't been complying with family court orders for visitation and phone calls with the child. He criticized the plea deal.
"How do you get away with attempted murder?" he asked, then suggested the wealth of Tiffany Stevens' family played a role.
Tiffany Stevens' lawyer, Hubert Santos, and prosecutor Anthony Bochicchio did not return messages seeking comment after the sentencing Monday. Santos denied that his client was involved in a murder-for-hire plot.
Bochicchio said in court that winning a conviction at a second trial would have been difficult because witnesses gave inconsistent statements, The Hartford Courant reported.