CHICAGO — Police say a woman was so desperate to get custody of her two children that she hired what she thought were gang members to kill her ex-husband and his new wife, then decided they should only be "severely injured and incapacitated."
Michelle Bertoncini, 39, of South Elgin, Ill., was arrested Tuesday after several meetings with the "gang members," who turned out to be undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco, according to agency spokesman Tom Ahern.
Bertoncini was charged with solicitation for aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm and of solicitation for unlawful vehicular invasion, Ahern said. She is being held on $350,000 bail in the Kane County Jail.
Bertoncini had met with the undercover agents over the last few months. At first, she discussed having the agents kill her ex-husband and his wife, a Chicago Public Schools teacher, Ahern said. Then she back off and wanted them seriously injured, Ahern said.
"Her intention was to gain custody of their children back," Ahern said.
Bertoncini offered the undercover officers $1,200 to carjack the couple and beat them, Ahern said. She had given them $350 as a down payment and was going to pay the rest at another meeting, he said.
She handed over photos of the couple as well as photos of his car and a drawing of his apartment in Chicago, Ahern said.
Bertoncini is to appear before Kane County Judge James Hallock on March 7. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.