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Somers Point therapist charged with hiring hitman to 'permanently disfigure' victim

Somers Point therapist charged with hiring hitman to 'permanently disfigure' victim


A Somers Point therapist told an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman she wanted her Massachusetts colleague’s “face bashed-in” and arm broken, according to a criminal complaint filed with the U.S Attorney’s Office.

Diane Sylvia, 58, has been charged with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and appeared in Camden federal court Monday.

According to the criminal complaint filed Friday, a person contacted the FBI to report a murder-for-hire scheme on Sept. 24.

The informant is a former member of an organization criminal gang and was in therapy with Sylvia, a licensed clinical social worker. Sylvia allegedly asked the informant to help kill a North Attleboro, Massachusetts, man, the complaint said.

Sylvia’s lawyer Michael Paulhus of Toms River could not be reached for comment. Sylvia could not be reached for comment.

According to the court documents, Sylvia targeted the man after he threatened to report her to a licensing board. She wanted the man assaulted to “make (her) feel better,” according to court documents.

“(He) ended up with some stuff on me that he was gonna report me to the licensing board, which means I have no job,” she said in court documents.

On Oct. 6, the informant introduced Sylvia to an undercover FBI agent posing as a hit man. Sylvia told the undercover agent that she did not want the Massachusetts man dead, but rather wanted him beaten and permanently disfigured.

“He needs his pretty little face bashed in, that’s what I really want,” Sylvia said during the conversation, which was recorded by the FBI. “Something that makes him not so cute, something so he can’t do push-ups, so he can’t work out.”

Sylvia arranged two more meetings with the undercover FBI agent and paid a total of $5,000 to carry out the assault, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. She told the undercover agent she was using a home equity loan to pay for the plot.

On Oct. 18, Sylvia said she was going to pull back the assault but would still pay the undercover FBI agent for the work done, according to court documents.

Two days later, Sylvia and the undercover agent met at her Linwood office to discuss the assault. The undercover agent explained there are options for disfigurement, such as using battery acid to scar a face, according to court documents.

On Oct. 23, Sylvia contacted the undercover agent asking to call off the assault, according to court documents, claiming she “had a change of heart.”

The next day, Sylvia and the undercover agent spoke and Sylvia said she “wanted the assault to occur” and the man’s face disfigured, but not with battery acid, according to court documents. Their last meeting was on Oct. 31.

Sylvia was arrested by FBI agents Friday evening and was held at the Cape May County Correctional Facility in Cape May Court House until her appearance Monday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She posted $50,000 bail and was released to family, according to the office.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, solicitation of a crime of violence charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 fine.

The investigation was led by the FBI, with assistance from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, state police, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the state Department of Human Services Police and members of the Northfield Police Department.

Contact: 609-272-7286 Twitter @ACPress_LC

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Staff Writer

Joined the Press in November 2016. Graduate of Quinnipiac University. Previously worked as a freelance reporter in suburban Philadelphia and news/talk radio producer.

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