U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York
(716) 843-5700
June 1, 2015

Former Amherst Woman Charged in Murder-for-Hire Plot

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Debra Arno, 56, formerly of Amherst, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with federal murder-for-hire. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John M. Alsup, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on May 26, 2015, the Kenmore Police Department received a tip about a murder for hire plan. The individual told officers that another person had been given money by the defendant to murder her ex-husband, his current wife and their daughter. The individual reported to officers seeing hand written letters detailing the schedule and current residence of the family along with photos. On May 27, the Kenmore Police Department identified Arno’s ex-husband, his wife and their daughter. Officers also alerted the victims of the murder-for-hire plan.

On May 28, 2015, a search warrant was executed at the residence of the person allegedly hired by the defendant to carry out the murders. Officers seized a number of items including multiple documents from Arno to the individual including photos of the intended victims, a diagram of their residence and a schedule of their activities. Also seized were two cellular telephones and three shotguns.

The complaint alleges that Arno was going to pay the defendant a total of $20,000 to commit the murders.

Arno made an initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. and is being detained pending a detention hearing on June 2, 2015 at 11:15 a.m.

The criminal complaint is 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 which includes the Amherst Police Department; Buffalo Police Department; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Cheektowaga Police Department; Erie County Sheriff’s Office; Hamburg Police Department; Lancaster Police Department; Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority; New York State Department of Correctional Services; New York State Police; U.S. Border Patrol; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement–Homeland Security Investigations.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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