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January 24, 2001

Woman jailed 30 years for plot to kill ex-husband

Tried to hire hit man: Planned to remarry millionaire, then have him killed

The Associated Press
National Post

Stephan J. Carrera, The Associated Press
Former model April Goodman told a detective posing as a hit man she wanted Albert Goodman to "drown on his honeymoon ... I don't want him to live or breathe."

(Albert) Goodman

CHICAGO - A former model has been ordered to serve 30 years in prison for trying to hire a hit man to drown her millionaire former husband.

April Goodman, 35, wanted to remarry Albert Goodman and have him killed after he transferred money to her, prosecutors said.

"The defendant's homicidal plot was premeditated, well-organized and planned," said Cook County Circuit Judge John Moran.

Had the undercover officer been a real killer, "Albert Goodman would likely be dead today," he added.

Goodman will be eligible for parole in 25 years.

A jury took less than five hours in October to convict her of planning to kill Mr. Goodman, who bankrolled Chicago's prestigious Goodman Theater with a family fortune made in the lumber industry. He was in the courtroom for Monday's sentencing.

Mr. Goodman met April Summers -- 20 years his junior, a model and an aspiring actress from Indiana -- through a dating service in 1995. Their contentious divorce came two years later.

During the dramatic three-day trial, jurors heard a tape in which Goodman told Chicago Police Detective Peter Bukiri, who was posing as a hit man, that she wanted Mr. Goodman to "drown on his honeymoon ... I don't want him to live or breathe."

Barry Wolf, the woman's former boyfriend, turned her in to police, saying she had also asked him to kill Mr. Goodman.

Prosecutors said he was only one of several men she had asked to do the job while she was still hounding her former husband for money.

Police said Goodman asked her husband for US$10,000 for liposuction hours before paying the undercover officer US$1,000 for the hit. The total cost was to be US$5,000.

During the trial, prosecutors said she was motivated by greed and revenge. They said she had designs on millions of dollars Mr. Goodman was to inherit from his mother, who has since died.

During the sentencing hearing last week, prosecutors introduced testimony from Paul Leventhal, April Goodman's first husband, who said he began wearing a bulletproof vest after the couple separated and he received an alarming call from April's psychiatrist or psychologist.

"Anyone who did not experience this trial first-hand would write this off as something from the Hollywood grist mill," said Michael McHale, one of the prosecutors, during the sentencing hearing last Friday.

"She wanted [Albert Goodman] out of the picture," Mr. McHale added. "What she wanted was his money -- all of his money. The beautiful young woman believed she was entitled to it."

Defence lawyers insisted Goodman would have had no legal rights to her husband's money at the time of her arrest, as the couple had been legally divorced a year earlier.

They said their client was mentally ill and her former husband had swindled her out of proceeds from a real estate deal.

The defence also said Mr. Wolf had been the one who wanted Mr. Goodman killed, and that she went along out of fear.

"I'm very thankful to be alive," Mr. Goodman said after the sentencing.

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