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Kenmore woman pleads guilty to weapons charge, not murder for hire

The murder-for-hire allegations grabbed headlines but in the end didn't stick.

Instead, Lauren Frye, the 56-year old Kenmore woman accused of taking part in the murder plot, pleaded guilty Friday to a weapons charge.

Frye faces a recommended sentence of up to 18 months in prison.

"Through the investigation, it was determined the more serious allegation may not have been substantiated," Fonda Dawn Kubiak, an assistant federal public defender, said Friday.

The original charges against Frye stemmed from an investigation that also focused on Debra Arno, her alleged co-conspirator.

Arno, who is expected in court Monday, is facing a federal murder-for-hire charge and is accused of offering to pay Frye $20,000 to kill Arno's ex-husband, his new wife and their young daughter.

In charging Arno and Frye, prosecutors pointed to evidence found at Frye's Elmwood Avenue apartment – photos of the intended victims, a diagram of their home and a schedule of their comings and goings.

Early on in the case, Arno's competency became an issue. The judge who ordered her detained, U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr., raised questions about her mental health and, more specifically, an accident years ago that might have affected her “cognitive functions.”

Kubiak said Arno's mental health, and her inability to knowingly take part in a murder conspiracy, were instrumental in convincing prosecutors to consider a lesser charge against Frye.

"Our resolution in this case is certainly the result of the court's concerns about Debra Arno's mental capacity," she said.

In the end, Frye, who has a previous felony drug conviction, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. When police searched her apartment last year, they found three unloaded shotguns.

Frye, who according to court documents acknowledged having a relationship with Arno, is scheduled to be sentenced in March but may request an earlier date given her time in custody – just one month short of the 18 month maximum recommended sentence.




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