Paul B. Luskin, the well-known Baltimore native convicted 14 years ago in a botched murder-for-hire plot against his estranged first wife, is free from prison after a successful effort to win a shorter sentence.
Luskin, 54, was released late Friday from the federal prison in Yazoo City, Miss., and has gone to live with his second wife in south Florida, Baltimore defense attorney Herbert Better said yesterday.
Luskin's release closes the bizarre, long-running case that began in 1987 with three failed murder-for-hire plots, including one in which a hit man posed as a flower deliveryman outside the Hollywood, Fla., home of Luskin and his then-wife, Marie.
In recent years, the case was marked by Luskin's unrelenting battle to have his 35-year prison term for his role in planning the crimes reduced. The sentence was handed down after his conviction at a 1988 trial in Baltimore, where investigators said the scheme was hatched.
Even as he signed the final order in the case, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz wrote in April: "Luskin has been persistent, one might say maddeningly persistent, in seeking to have his sentence reduced."
The efforts proved successful.
Luskin's first break came in late 2000, when Motz cut almost 10 years off the term after Luskin admitted his guilt in the case after more than a decade of professing his innocence.
An appeals court ruled last summer that Motz was wrong to reduce the sentence, however, because an error in the case had left Luskin's original sentence 10 years shorter than it should have been by law.
In response, Motz corrected the original sentence in an order handed down in April, but restructured the time Luskin was to serve so that he still would be released this summer. The judge has said he had anticipated that Luskin would serve only about 10 years before being paroled.
"In going through the ups and downs of this case, and they were mostly downs, it was very difficult," Better said. "If this had not have happened, he would have had to serve until the middle of 2008. You just had to hope and hope and hope."