A Louisville pediatrician was involved in a years-long custody battle with her ex-husband before being arrested for attempting to hire a hitman to kill him, according to court documents.
Stephanie Russell, 52, allegedly contacted an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman and agreed to pay $7,000 in exchange for killing her ex-husband, the Department of Justice said.
Russell allegedly dropped a $3,500 check in a dropbox outside her medical office on Wednesday and agreed to pay the remaining half after her ex-husband was killed.
The DOJ said the “hitman” was actually an FBI Undercover Employee.
On Thursday, FBI agents arrested her and booked her into the Oldham County Detention Center around 5:30 p.m.
Russell’s ex-husband filed for divorce in 2018, and it was finalized in 2020, the court records indicate. Prior to her arrest, the two were involved in a custody battle.
Dr. Stephanie Russell claimed that her ex-husband was abusing her and her oldest child, claims that were later proven to be false, the court documents added.
Her ex-husband’s lawyer John Harralson said in a statement:
“I felt like I was swinging in a tennis match, swinging at all these balls and they just kept coming and a lot of work went in by Laurel in family court fending off the EPO’S and the frivolous motions and then we were really busy meeting with crimes against children. I’m trying to subpoena phone records for this weird phone that was calling and I’m giving those records to police.”
Russell was found to be lying after an 18-month investigation into the allegations of abuse, the documents show.
Russell works at KidzLife Pediatrics in Prospect as a pediatrician. In 2020, she lost custody of her children. Only supervised visits were permitted.
The FBI was assisted in the investigation by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Russell could face ten years in federal prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.