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Entries in Jeffrey Stern (6)

Tuesday
Jul242012

Jeffrey Stern Murder-For-Hire Charges Dropped 

The Stern Family(HOUSTON) -- Charges of soliciting murder have been dropped against prominent Houston lawyer Jeffrey Stern, who was about to go on trial for allegedly plotting with his mistress to kill his wife.

Stern's former mistress, Michelle Gaiser has already pleaded guilty that she had hatched a plot with Stern to kill his wife Yvonne and is serving a 25 year prison term. In exchange for her guilty plea and cooperation with the government, prosecutors agreed to reduce her possible life sentence to a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Stern, 55, was expected to go on trial this month for the attempts on his wife's life.

All charges against the wealthy attorney were dismissed over "insufficient corroboration of accomplice witness testimony" by a Texas court today.

"This has been a case in which the evidence has continuously evolved," First Assistant District Attorney Jim Leitner said in a statement today. "We have remained true to our mission by examining information objectively, weighing our decisions carefully, and acting prudently. Ultimately we have come to the conclusion that, at this point, the available evidence is not sufficient to justify taking this case to trial."

Last month, Stern's attorneys held a press conference to state they had information that Gaiser, 39, was trying to have Stern killed from behind bars.

Stern's lawyer, Paul Nugent, applauded the prosecution's decision.

"Upon a final review of their case, the Harris County District Attorney's Office realized there was not credible evidence to proceed and has dismissed all charges against Jeff Stern," Nugent said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Houston Murder-for-Hire Plot Has New Twist

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A woman who confessed to plotting with her lover, Jeffrey Stern, to have his wife killed allegedly is now trying to have him killed from behind bars, Stern's attorney has said.

Prosecutors say Stern, a prominent Houston lawyer, and his former mistress, Michelle Gaiser, planned three failed attempts to kill Stern's wife, Yvonne.

The plots failed, although Yvonne was shot in the stomach during the third attempt.

Stern will be tried next month for his alleged role in the plots.

During a press conference on Tuesday, his attorney, Paul Nugent, claimed that that Gaiser was plotting to kill his client.  Nugent read from a jailhouse letter Gaiser allegedly wrote in which he claimed she ordered a hit on Stern.

"Michelle Gaiser -- from her jail cell -- has plotted yet another murder," Nugent said.  "She has solicited an inmate to murder Jeffrey Stern for $20,000."

Nugent also claimed the letter said the killing should "look like a robbery gone bad."

Nugent would not give the media a closer look at the note, but he claims Gaiser wrote that the hit should happen near the Sterns' vacation home in Aspen.

According to Nugent, the letter also said that if Stern was killed near the Aspen residence, "people will think the wife did the planning to kill him as revenge."

Nugent said he turned the note over to the district attorney, who declined to bring Gaiser up on any new charges.  Nugent also claimed the FBI was investigating, but the agency would not confirm that.

Gaiser has agreed to plead guilty to arranging three attempts on Yvonne's life.  In exchange for her guilty plea and cooperation with the government, prosecutors agreed to reduce her possible life sentence to a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Stern was charged with soliciting capital murder, and will stand trial on July 27.  He admitted the affair with Gaiser, but has denied any wrongdoing in the murder attempts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

Jury Begins Deliberations in Houston Murder-for-Hire Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A Houston jury is now deliberating after days of tearful testimony in the trial of a man prosecutors say was hired to kill a millionaire attorney's socialite wife.

Damian Flores' fate hangs in the balance, after Michelle Gaiser told the jury how she arranged to have Houston socialite Yvonne Stern murdered in the parking lot of her apartment building.  Gaiser said that she gave Flores $15,000 as a down payment on the hit.

In court, prosecutors painted Flores as a cold-blooded killer.

"Damian Flores doesn't look the part.  Damian Flores is the part," attorney for the prosecution Justin Keiter said.

Yvonne Stern testified Monday that when he approached her while she sat in her car she begged Flores for her life, but that he took a few steps away, turned around, and fired through the glass.

"He had the opportunity to not kill her," prosecutor Kari Allen said. "But what did he do?  He turned around, he bit his lip and he pulled the trigger."

Gaiser admitted to the jury she told Flores where Stern lived, what type of car she drove and when she would be alone.

"He was supposed to go over and wait for Yvonne and do the job -- shoot Yvonne," Gaiser said.

In exchange for her dramatic testimony, Gaiser made a deal with prosecutors in which pleading guilty to solicitation of capital murder led to a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Gaiser is also expected to testify against Jeffrey Stern when he stands trial in a few months, stating that the two conspired to hire Flores to kill his wife.

Jeffrey Stern maintains his innocence, as does his wife, who had started divorce proceedings, citing adultery, but later changed her mind and reconciled with him.

Though the jury could return with a verdict as soon as Friday in Flores' case, the couple will not know its fate until next year.  Jeffrey Stern's trial is scheduled for February, and Yvonne, his alleged victim, vows she'll be right by his side.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

Houston Murder-for-Hire Mistress Testifies at Alleged Hitman's Trial

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The Houston woman who has confessed to hiring a hitman to murder her lover's wife testified at the alleged killer's trial that she gave him $15,000 in cash and told him where and when to gun down the woman.

Michelle Gaiser told the jury how she arranged to have Houston socialite Yvonne Stern murdered in her car while it was parked in the lot of her apartment building.  The mistress of Yvonne Stern's husband, millionaire attorney Jeffrey Stern, spent the entire day on the stand, sobbing nearly the entire time.

"I made a horrible mistake, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel ashamed of what I have done," Gaiser, taking the stand in her jail jumpsuit, told the court.

Jeffrey Stern has been indicted on solicitation of capital murder charges, while five other people, including Gaiser, have been charged in the plot.  Prosecutors are presenting a case that Gaiser plotted with Jeffrey Stern to pay alleged hitman Damien Flores to shoot his wife.

Jeffrey Stern is denying this allegation -- and his wife believes him.

"I love my husband.  I believe in him wholeheartedly, of his innocence.  He had nothing to do with this, and he could not do anything with this.  We are victims of a fatal attraction," Yvonne Stern said.

Gaiser is the star witness in the trial against Flores, who is accused of shooting Yvonne Stern in the stomach as she sat in her Cadillac SUV in May of last year.

The tearful victim testified Monday that she begged Flores for her life that day, but that he took a few steps away, turned around, and fired through the glass.

Flores' attorney told jurors Monday that Stern initially identified another man -- who had worked on the Sterns' home -- as her assailant.  She later identified Flores from a line-up.

He was allegedly the third hitman hired to kill Yvonne Stern in four months.

Gaiser admitted to the jury that she told Flores where Stern lived, what type of car she drove and when she would be alone.  She said that she gave him Flores $15,000 in cash in an envelope as a down payment on the murder.

In exchange for her testimony, Gaiser made a deal with prosecutors in which pleading guilty to solicitation of capital murder led to a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov012011

Target of Murder-for-Hire, Wife Defends Husband Indicted in Hit Plot

Comstock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The Houston woman who prosecutors say was targeted in a murder-for-hire plot in which her husband was indicted, testified on the first day of the trial of one of several suspects charged.

Bellaire socialite Yvonne Stern survived three attempts on her life, but when she left court Monday after giving her testimony, she spoke out in defense of her husband.

Prosecutors claim Jeffrey Stern and his mistress, Michelle Cabrera Gaiser, plotted to kill Yvonne Stern. Mr. Stern was indicted on solicitation of capital murder charges. Five other people, including Gaiser, have been charged in the plot.

The Sterns left court holding hands, and Yvonne Stern paused to tell reporters that she loved her husband and had forgiven him for "his indiscretions."

"He had nothing to do with this and could not do anything with this. We are victims of a fatal attraction," she said. Her husband, a prominent Houston attorney, said nothing.

On the stand, Stern cried when she described being shot as she sat in her SUV in the parking garage of her apartment last year. The suspect, Damian Flores, is up on capital murder charges.

Flores' attorney told jurors that Stern initially identified another man -- who had worked on the Sterns' home -- as her assailant. She later identified Flores from a line-up.

Jeffrey Stern has denied the allegations against him.

Yvonne Stern had started divorce proceedings, citing adultery, but later changed her mind and reconciled with her husband.

Cabrera has reportedly agreed to a plea deal and is expected to testify in Flores' trial.

The first attempt to kill Stern was a drive-by shooting at the couple's Houston home in February 2010. The house was sprayed with bullets, but Stern, who has two children, wasn't home.

Two months later, a man shot at her through the glass in the door but missed. The entire family was at home, but no one was hurt. Following the second incident, the family moved to an apartment for safety, but someone tracked Stern down there.

In May 2010, she was sitting in her car in the parking garage at the apartment when a man -- allegedly Flores -- approached her window with a gun leveled at her head. She begged and pleaded through the window, telling the gunman about her children and a new grandchild.

The gunman seemed to have a change of heart, lowering the gun from her head to her abdomen. He hesitated, then shot her in the stomach. She slumped over, played dead, and, bleeding, drove herself to the nearest gas station for help, her attorney has said.

Another man, Nhut Nguyen, has already been tried for his role in the plot. Nguyen was sentenced in August to 45 years in prison for shooting at Stern at her home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb022011

Woman Stands by Husband Accused of Plotting Her Murder

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(HOUSTON) -- A Houston woman, who has survived three attempts on her life, is now standing by her husband, who's been indicted in the alleged crime.

Jeffrey Stern's 38-year-old mistress, Michelle Cabrera Gaiser, was arrested and charged with plotting to kill his wife. Four other people were also arrested for their involvement in the crime.

After her husband's arrest, Yvonne Stern filed for divorce, citing adultery by her 53-year-old husband. But just months later, she changed her mind and the couple reconciled.

Jeffrey Stern's lawyer, Paul Nugent, told reporters that his client apologized to his family for the affair.

"The only thing Jeff is guilty of is having had a marital transgression," said Nugent. "Let me be perfectly clear, Jeff Stern is innocent of these charges."

The first attempt to kill Yvonne Stern was a drive-by shooting at their home in February 2010. Two months later, in April, someone rang the doorbell and when Yvonne Stern came to the door, a man shot at her through the glass. 

According to Nugent, Jeffrey Stern took precautions to fortify his house and protect his family, hiring a retired police officer to advise him. The family then moved to an apartment for safety.

But a gunman tracked Yvonne Stern down there as well. In May 2010, Stern was sitting in the driver's seat of her car in the parking garage at their apartment. A man approached her window with a gun leveled at her head. She begged and pleaded through the window. The gunman had a change of heart and lowered the gun from her head and shot her in the stomach. She slumped over, played dead, and then, bleeding, drove herself to the nearest gas station for help, according to her lawyer, Chip Lewis.

So why would Mrs. Stern stand by her husband, who is one of five people charged in the conspiracy?

"She is without a doubt convinced that he got involved with a woman who, for whatever reasons, through whatever grandeur delusions, psychosis, whatever it may be, believed that she needed to get rid of Mrs. Stern. And that is where the prosecutor and Mrs. Stern differ...she doesn't believe he had anything to do with planning the attempts on her life," said Lewis.

Mr. Stern is free on one million dollars bond. If convicted, he faces five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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