A mental health therapist in Atlantic County has been accused of trying to hire a hit man to assault a man who had been extorting money from her, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Monday.
Diane Sylvia, 58, of Somers Point, was charged in federal court in Camden with one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and faces a maximum five years in prison if convicted.
In September, a former member of an organized criminal gang went to Sylvia for therapy at her office in Linwood, prosecutors said.
Sylvia learned about her patient's background and asked, according to the criminal complaint, for his help to kill a man in Massachusetts who had been extorting money from her after he "ended up with some stuff on me that he was gonna report me to the licensing board, which means I have no job."
The former gangster alerted law enforcement and helped introduce Sylvia to a purported hit man, who was actually an undercover FBI agent.
Sylvia allegedly told the FBI agent that she did not want to have the Massachusetts man killed, but instead beaten and permanently disfigured, prosecutors said.
"He needs his pretty little face bashed in, that's what I really want," she allegedly said, adding that "a broken arm would help, too."
When asked why she wanted to have the man assaulted, she allegedly replied, "It's just gonna make me feel better" and "it's the only way I can get him back."
Sylvia paid the pretend hit man $5,000, prosecutors said.
A lawyer for Sylvia could not be reached for comment Monday evening.