A federal judge in Florida handed down the maximum sentence to a 48-year-old Tallahassee woman convicted of trying to have her estranged husband killed in a murder-for-hire plot. U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker on Monday sentenced Gretchen Buselli, also known as Gretchen Yarbrough, to serve 15 years behind bars after she paid an undercover federal agent a $5,000 downpayment to assassinate the man, federal prosecutors confirmed in an email to Law&Crime
According to court documents, Buselli used a cellphone to solicit the would-be assassin, communicating with the undercover FBI agent from June 2021 to December 2021.
The investigation into Buselli began when she communicated with an acquaintance – identified in court documents as “CW” – via mail, phone, text message, and encrypted mobile app about her plans to solicit the murder of her estranged husband, prosecutors said. Buselli, who had known CW since the two were teens, was a person she knew had “committed crimes” and had “been to prison,” prosecutors said.
Authorities said Buselli asked CW in June 2021 to kill her ex-husband in exchange for $40,000, claiming that the man was abusing her daughter. After the two communicated more about this on the encrypted messaging app Signal, the conversation shifted to a telephone call that the feds were listening in on.
In July 2021, the suspect “explained to CW how she has been struggling with the child custody situation with her ex-husband, that she has a judge that doesn’t care, and that she believes the system is corrupt and preventing her from getting justice for her daughter,” an affidavit filed in federal court stated. Buselli allegedly reasoned that the only solution was getting rid of her ex-husband.
The affidavit also included a detail of the defendant becoming “very excited” when CW proposed dumping her ex’s body in the ocean.
CW connected Buselli with a person named “Paul,” who was actually an undercover FBI employee. The agent learned that Buselli was prepared to provide details about her estranged husband’s appearance, daily routines, and where he could be found.
Little did Buselli know at the time that the person she agreed to pay a $5,000 advance to commit the crime was the very person looking to stop a killing from occurring.
“Buselli was later surveilled [in September 2021] depositing the agreed upon $5,000 payment at a public park. Following her delivery of the payment, agents observed Buselli dispose of the clothing she had worn during delivery of the payment,” the DOJ said in a press release. “After being advised by the undercover agent that her estranged husband had been killed, Buselli stated, ‘thank you.’”
After Buselli was caught, prosecutors said, she lied that she didn’t seek to have her estranged husband killed. In addition to “using an interstate commerce facility in the commission of murder-for-hire,” Buselli was convicted of lying to the feds.
Court records show that she has not yet been assigned to a federal prison.
(image via Leon County Jail)
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