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Press Release

Former Amherst Woman Pleads Guilty For Her Role In Plot To Murder Ex-Husband; Co-Defendant Also Pleads Guilty

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.-Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Debra Arno, 57, formerly of Amherst, NY, pleaded guilty to solicitation of interstate murder for hire before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $125,000 fine. In addition, Lauren Frye, 57, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to being a felon-in-possession of a firearm which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that on May 26, 2015, the Kenmore Police Department received a tip about a murder for hire plan. On May 27, 2015, Kenmore Police, with the assistance of the East Aurora Police Department, identified the victims, who included Arno’s ex-husband and his current wife, and made them aware of the potential murder-for-hire plot.

On May 28, 2015, a search warrant was executed at the residence of co-defendant Lauren Frye, the person solicited by Arno to carry out the murders. Officers seized a number of items including multiple letters from Arno to Frye, photos of the intended victims, a diagram of their residence and a schedule of their activities. In one letter written by Arno to Frye, Arno stated “I am enclosing $6000. I will give you an additional $14,000 upon completion. A total of $20,000. A man, his description and address enclosed, is to be eliminated or hurt. He lives with 2 other people. Both expendable (if there is an accident).”

During the search of Frye’s residence, officers also seized two cellular telephones and three shotguns. The cellular telephones revealed extensive text messaging between Arno and Frye. Arno repeatedly implored Frye to get the murder done. In a series of text messages exchanged on May 24, 2015, Arno, using cryptic texts, inquired as to when Frye’s “friends” were going to commit the murder. Frye responded: “There suppose to get a hold of me today I want it done no bullshit.”  Arno, using the nickname “Chickie,” responded: “Last day before everything changes! I need it done or else I am going to talk to them myself.”  Frye responded: “That’s fine I told them today was the deadline or its gonna get harder.”  Arno responded: “What is the big deal! 8 MONTHS! Today!  Do it yourself I don’t give a (expletive).”

The pleas are the result of an investigation by the Village of Kenmore Police Department, under the direction of Chief Peter Breitnauer, the East Aurora Police Department, under the direction of Chief Ronald Krowka, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen.

Arno is scheduled to be sentenced on March 8, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara. Frye will be sentenced on March 9, 2017, at 12:30 p.m., also before Judge Arcara.

Updated November 1, 2016