Hire Hitman? No…He Was Actually an Undercover Officer
Diane Marie Hart, 45, from Ravenna, MI, and her older sister, Vicky Lynn Brill, 50, have both been sentenced to prison for attempting to hire a hitman to kill Hart’s husband. The hitman, as it turned out, was an undercover Michigan state police officer. He recorded the entire conversation on video.
The two sisters and the husband, Gene Hart, lived together in the same home on Cline Road in Ravenna. The women offered jewelry and $5,000 in cash to the undercover officer as payment for the murder. According to court records, the meeting was set up only one day after Hart filed for divorce.
The meeting took place at about 1 pm on November 13, 2013, in a vehicle outside the Five Below store on Harvey Street in Norton Shores, MI. The video recording of that meeting clearly shows Hart providing a picture of her husband and making a down payment. Both sisters were arrested immediately after the meeting and charged with solicitation to murder.
Apparently the meeting was part of an operation set up by Michigan State Police, working together with West Michigan Enforcement Team. According to Michigan State Police Trooper William Coon, Gene Hart had contacted state police with some “very disturbing concerns” he had heard from his brother-in-law, Dean Wilson. Wilson had called Gene to tell him that earlier that year he had been approached by Brill who had offered him money to kill Gene. Wilson claims that at first he didn’t take her seriously, but when she put a timeline on it, he grew worried. As a result, an undercover officer had approached Brill and Hart, offering his services as a hitman.
On Monday morning, April 28th, Muskegon County 14th Circuit Chief Judge William C. Marietti sentenced Hart to six to thirty years in prison. Hart pleaded no contest as charged after Marietti committed to cap her minimum sentence at six years. He also gave her credit for the 166 days she has already served in the Muskegon County Jail.
Hart’s attorney, Belinda Barbier, said she felt that Hart deserved a lighter sentence because she was not the instigator of the plan, but only going along with her older sister’s plan. However, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson disputes that, saying “She participated in this fully. In my opinion she’s just as guilty as her sister”. Brill also pleaded no contest after receiving the same sentence cap commitment from the judge.