Wife who fell in love with hired hitman gets
25 years to life
By John Springer - Court TV
Thursday, April 29,
A woman who fell in love with a hitman with
more muscles than brains was sentenced to 25 years to life in
prison Wednesday for the death of a man killed in a tragic case of
Lee Ann Reidel, 36, mumbled to her lawyer while
Judge Louis Ohlig chastised her for continuing to maintain her
innocence despite evidence that she hired, and later had a baby
with, a man who was supposed to kill her husband.
"When is this charade going to end?" Ohlig
asked Reidel, who stood with her hands cuffed behind her back. "Do
you know how many families were affected here? How many lives were
The hitman, Ralph Salierno, was sentenced
Monday to life without parole for the January 17, 2001, shooting
death of 32-year-old Alex Algeri outside a Long Island fitness
center. Salierno actually intended to kill Reidel's estranged
husband Paul, who was Algeri's business partner, but botched the
Reidel did not address the court during her
sentencing. Her attorney, Bruce Barket, asked Ohlig to "tread
lightly" because he was about to send a wrongly convicted person
away to prison.
Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield,
who prosecuted Salierno and Reidel simultaneously before separate
juries, took issue with Barket's statements questioning the jury's
"Justice has been served here, your honor,"
Merrifield said. "She, because of her own greed and evil heart,
wanted her husband dead ... This defendant is the most
self-absorbed defendant I have ever prosecuted."
According to testimony, Reidel left her husband
abruptly in the summer of 2000. She took their children and
$120,000 of his money and moved to Florida to begin a new life.
Witnesses testified that Reidel, her mother and
her mother's female lover recruited Salierno and another man to
"put a beating" on Paul if he showed up in Florida to make
Paul Reidel, an ex-convict who spent six years
in prison on drug charges, hired a New York lawyer and forced Lee
Ann to bring their toddler son back to Long Island pending the
outcome of a custody battle. At that time, the plan to scare Paul
Reidel transformed into a plot to have him murdered.
Algeri, who happened to drive the same car as
Paul Reidel, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Salierno shot him to death while he was retrieving music CDs from
"Our brother is gone and the hole in our hearts
will never be filled because of [Lee Ann's] greed and hatred of
her husband," Christie Stoll, the victim's sister, told Ohlig.
"Even though Lee Ann Reidel wasn't there on the night of Jan. 17,
2001, she just as well might have been. Lee Ann Reidel is just as
guilty as Ralph Salierno."
Merrifield declined to comment on why she did
not ask Ohlig to sentence Reidel to life in prison without a
parole, an option under her first-degree murder conviction.
After the sentencing, Ohlig told Reidel he
gladly would have given her a harsher sentence had the
prosecutor's office asked for it.
As Reidel was led out of the courtroom, an
unidentified person yelled out, "Lee Ann, we love you. You'll be
home soon, sweetheart."
A relative of Algeri's yelled back "Forget it!"
Outside the courtroom Salvatore Algeri, the
victim's father, said he had no quarrel with the prosecutor's
recommendation of 25 years to life.
"They chose to give her a lesser sentence. Good
for her," he said. "Justice has been done. She's going to serve
her time. That's good with us."
During the trial, Barket portrayed Salierno as
an obsessive, manipulative man and argued that he took it upon
himself to kill Paul Reidel so that he could have Lee Ann all to
Barket said Reidel has retained appeals counsel
and that a notice of appeal had been filed.
Miami man gets life without parole in
mistaken identity murder
April 26, 2004
RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A Miami man who killed the
wrong victim in a murder-for-hire plot received a life sentence
Ralph Salierno, 35, was convicted last month of
fatally shooting Alexander Algieri outside the gym he co-owned
with Paul Riedel on Jan. 17, 2001.
Salierno was having an affair with Riedel's
estranged wife, Lee Ann Riedel, when he enlisted an accomplice,
Scott Paget. They drove from Florida to New York to kill Paul
Riedel, prosecutors said.
However, the pair mistakenly shot and killed
Algieri, who had the same dark hair, build and drove the same
model sport utility vehicle as Paul Riedel.
Lee Ann Riedel also was convicted last month on
murder and conspiracy charges and is scheduled to be sentenced
Wednesday. She also faces a sentence of life without parole. Both
she and Salierno were tried in the same Suffolk County courtroom
before separate juries. Her lawyer has said he intends to appeal
The third conspirator in the case, Paget,
pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in November and will be
sentenced to 18 years to life in prison because of his cooperation
against Salierno and Riedel, prosecutors said.
Paget testified he was paid $3,000 by Salierno
to drive to and from Florida. He also said Salierno had a photo of
Paul Riedel and they were given directions by Lee Ann Riedel on
where he could be found.
Jury convicts wife in 'wrong
man' murder-for-hire case
March 26, 2004
RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — Lee Ann Reidel
smiled nearly every time she was escorted into the courtroom
during her six-week murder-for-hire trial, but she cried
uncontrollably Friday when a jury pronounced her guilty on all
Reidel, 36, wanted her boyfriend to kill her
husband, but he shot the wrong man. It took the jury 29 hours over
four days to sort out what exactly prosecutors had proved, but
they returned guilty verdicts on all three counts.
After reading the verdicts, the foreman of the
12-member jury put his head in his hands as if he was exasperated.
Reidel's crying became louder and louder as Judge Louis Ohlig
thanked the jury.
Reidel, of Boynton Beach, Fla., faces life in
prison when she is sentenced April 28 for first-degree murder,
second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
"Can I just say good-bye to my family?" Reidel
sobbed as she was led off to jail. Her father and his wife, David
and Cathi Armanini, appeared upset but said nothing as they left
Defense attorney Bruce Barket told reporters
there would be an appeal. "I respect the jury system. I respect
the jury process. I strongly disagree with the verdict," Barket
Prosecutor Denise Merrifield said she believed
the sequestered jurors deliberated so long because they may have
found it difficult to convict a woman when she did not actually
participate in the actual killing.
Merrifield called 35 witnesses as she
methodically built a case that Reidel's lover, a 35-year-old
sometimes-loan-shark collection agent named Ralph Salierno, drove
to New York from Florida in January 2001 to kill Lee Ann's husband
Paul. Merrifield argued Lee Ann wanted Paul out of her life and
wanted his money without the inconvenience of a messy interstate
'I want him ... dead'
The key evidence against Lee Ann Reidel and
Salierno, who was convicted by a separate jury Tuesday after just
four and a half hours of deliberation, came from a drug addict and
a drug dealer. The addict, Scott Paget, faces 18 years in prison
and admits he drove the getaway car after Salierno shot and killed
32-year-old fitness-club owner Alex Algeri in a case of mistaken
Algeri and Lee Ann's husband Paul were
co-owners of the gym where the murder occurred. Paget testified
that Salierno told him Lee Ann Reidel had given him a photograph
of Paul and directions to his home and business. Drug dealer
Michael Paglianti testified he was present when Lee Ann gave
Salierno a photograph and said, "I want him f---ing dead."
The defense tried unsuccessfully to argue that
Paget and Paglianti are not credible and have motives to lie.
Paget's plea bargain has not yet been finalized, and Paglianti is
awaiting federal sentencing for growing a quarter pound of
marijuana, according to testimony.
The defense claimed that Lee Ann Reidel's
mother and her mother's female lover recruited Salierno because
they feared Paul Reidel might show up in Florida looking to make
trouble after Lee Ann moved there with their infant son and
$120,000 of Paul's money.
Members of the jury apparently were hung up for
a while on the first-degree murder count. They requested a reading
of that charge and the elements of that crime six times during
their deliberations. Jurors were escorted out a side entrance to
cars in a secured parking lot because they did not wish to speak
to reporters, a court officer said.
Algeri's family said they were pleased with the
verdict but that there was no cause for celebration.
"Justice has been served completely," said
Salvatore Algeri, whose son was shot five times at point-blank
range when he entered his SUV to retrieve some compact discs. "It
is sad to see another young life got wasted, but these people did
a horrible deed."