Pitkin County woman to be retried for murder-for-hire plot
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
DENVER ” A Pitkin County woman in federal prison for offering a hit man $30,000 to kill her husband in 2004 is back in federal courts next week.
Claiming issues of competency in her earlier trial and federal prison sentence, Gwen Bergman, 52, will once again face a federal judge on charges that she trolled the Internet for a hired gun to snuff out her ex-husband, John LaCouture of Aspen.
Bergman made a plea deal in 2004 on felony charges of using the U.S. Postal Service to attempt a murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder for hire, and forfeiture, according to a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.
She was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison on December 15, 2004.
In September of 2006, however, Bergman appealed her case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming questions of competency to stand trial, according to court documents.
A federal judge found in her favor, and while Bergman remains in federal custody, on Monday she’ll have a chance to retry her case in a federal court in Denver.
Legal squabbling between Bergman and LaCouture date back to a custody battle for their son in 1999, according to court records.
Then, from March 24 to April 8, 2004, Bergman allegedly conspired to have LaCouture murdered, but made one mistake: She didn’t know that the men she thought were hired killers were federal agents.
Bergman approached Jerry Eden, the owner of a Miami security company, in March of 2004 and asked Eden for protection from LaCouture, whom she alleged was trying to kill her and her then 6-year-old son, according to court documents.
Eden connected Bergman with an ex-cop from Denver, Peter Adams.
Bergman asked Adams to eliminate LaCouture, something Adams said he couldn’t do, according to court document.
Eden called the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office on March 28, triggering the federal investigation.
Then, on three days in April, a woman identified in court papers as Elizabeth Bergman made three separate $10,000 withdrawals from banks in Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Basalt on Gwen Bergman’s behalf, according to court documents.
Federal Bureau of Investigations officials posing as a hit men recorded phone calls with Bergman making arrangements to have LaCouture killed.
Bergman allegedly sent federal agents a post office money order for $1,000 and promised another $29,000 in cash and a photo of her husband to seal the deal, according to court documents.
An undercover officer made the final arrest at a hotel near Denver in April of 2004.
Bergman will go before a judge in U.S. District Court on Monday. She faces 10 years in prison if convicted on the two counts of using the mail to commit murder for hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire.
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