Staff Writer

ASHTABULA - - A city man and woman accused of plotting to kill the woman's husband have been indicted by the grand jury, U.S. District Court officials said Friday.

Stephanie A. Acierno, 21, and Alan Kessler Jr., 20, both of Ashtabula, were arrested Oct. 5 after trying to hire a friend to kill Acierno's husband, Christopher Acierno, according to the criminal complaint.

The twosome face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, officials said.

Acierno is free on a $10,000 bond; Kessler had a competency hearing Thursday to determine if he was competent to stand trial, but court officials could not determine the results of that hearing Friday.

According to the investigation, the conspiracy to kill started last December when Kessler called a long-time friend in New Jersey and asked if he would help kill Christopher Acierno. The friend, who's name is being withheld by investigators, called the FBI and an undercover agent pretended to be a hit man.

Kessler and Acierno, who lived together though Acierno is married, were arrested at 927 Bunker Hill Road after thanking the undercover agent for killing Christopher Acierno.

Stephanie Acierno filed for divorce Oct. 21, 2005 after two years of marriage, according to Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court records. The couple have two children, court records show.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 12/9/2006

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