She took care of kids for a living, until federal prosecutors allege she tried to pay a stranger $7,000 to take care of her former husband -- for good.
A Kentucky pediatrician was remanded without bail Thursday after the Justice Department accused her of plotting to have her ex-husband killed in an alleged murder-for-hire that involved nurses in her office, a former nanny and an undercover operative.
Dr. Stephanie Russell, of Louisville, allegedly reached out to her subordinates at Kidz Life Pediatrics for help finding a hitman before one of them alerted the FBI.
DOJ documents allege she referred to delivering "Christmas flowers" as a euphemism for assassinating her ex, who had secured custody of their children after a court battle.
Reached by phone, her ex-husband Rick Crabtree told Fox News Digital he could not comment because the investigation remained ongoing.
The federal indictment alleges that the battle for custody of their two children was a motive in the plot. She accused her ex of child abuse, prompting a Louisville police investigation that first uncovered rumors of the alleged plans from the former nanny, according to court documents.
A Louisville detective interviewed Crabtree, who told her he believed Russell "was attempting to hire an assassin to kill him in order to take full custody of their two children," according to the criminal complaint. The detective reached out to the FBI.
One witness "assumed Russell was joking, until Russell asked...if he/she knew ‘really bad people’ who could get rid of Crabtree," the complaint alleges.
But the FBI could not corroborate the murder plot allegations, according to the complaint, and Louisville police found no evidence in support of Russell’s accusations that her ex had been abusing their children. Authorities dropped both investigations, until a private investigator uncovered more information on Russell’s alleged efforts to have her husband assassinated.
The PI found two unnamed witnesses, both linked to Russell's medical practice, who cooperated with the FBI. One played along with the alleged plot, going as far as claiming they'd found a potential hitman before backing out and claiming the hitman had "died." The witness also quit their job at Russell's office an attempted to cut off contact.
But Russell allegedly reached out again about "flowers," and the alarmed former employee put her in touch with a new purported hitman, who was really an undercover FBI employee.
In mid-May, Russell allegedly asked the contact to kill her ex and make it look like a suicide for $7,000.
The operative retrieved half of the payment from a lab specimen drop box outside Russell’s office on May 18, according to court documents. The next day, she was booked into the Oldham County Jail in La Grange, records show. She was ordered held without bail.
She faces charges of using interstate commerce facilities for the attempted commission of a murder-for-hire. The judge scheduled an arraignment for June 16.
U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky said she could face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.