Carroll woman pleads guilty in murder plot

Alleged cult member would serve 18 months in plan to kill ex-husband

April 08, 2003|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A woman who lived with reputed cult leader Scott Caruthers admitted yesterday conspiring with him to try to have her ex-husband murdered.

Dulsa Naedek also entered a guilty plea to a second murder conspiracy charge, this one involving a former business associate of Caruthers.

Under a plea agreement, Naedek would serve 18 months of a 15-year prison term. She has been held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Carroll County Detention Center since her arrest October 2001, meaning that she likely will have served her time by her sentencing, scheduled for May 22.

One point of contention at yesterday's hearing in Carroll County Circuit Court involved the prosecution's proposal that Naedek be required to be "deprogrammed" as a condition of her probation. Assistant Public Defender Thomas Nugent Jr. objected to the proposal. "Let's wait for the psychological evaluation" in the pre-sentence investigation, he said.

Judge Michael M. Galloway did not comment on the issue.

Naedek, 43, who lived with Caruthers and his wife at their former home in the 500 block of Scott Drive in Westminster, became the third member of the alleged cult to have her case resolved without trial. Caruthers is scheduled to stand trial May 12.

Yesterday, Naedek, formerly known as Deborah Hackerman, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Caruthers to murder her ex-husband, Timothy Hackerman. In a second case, she entered an Alford plea - denying guilt while acknowledging sufficient evidence to convict her - on a murder conspiracy charge involving E. David Gable, a business associate of Caruthers.

Neither man, nor any of the others allegedly targeted by the group, was injured.

Naedek, who has a master's degree in social work, sat erect, her hands folded on the table, and answered questions from the judge and her lawyer in a soft but firm voice.

Deputy State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore gave a lengthy statement of facts to support the pleas in the two conspiracies. Naedek, Caruthers and two others were charged with conspiring from August to September 15, 2001, to murder Gable, and with soliciting Amir Tabassi, a former bodyguard for Caruthers, to commit the slaying.

An author, inventor, diplomat and multimillion-dollar investor, Caruthers was said to be the leader of a space alien cult that used cats to communicate with a mother ship, according to interviews with former associates. He later said the activities of his followers involved research for science-fiction novels.

Caruthers and the others often complained about "enemies," Gilmore said, especially Gable, 53, of Baltimore County, whom they accused of taking money from Carnegie International Corp. The stock, once worth millions, had been frozen by a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and the company was embroiled in the civil lawsuit.

Timothy Hackerman drew their ire, Gilmore said, because in addition to a custody dispute with Naedek, he became active in the organization Jews for Judaism, which combats the influence of missionaries and cults that target the Jewish community for conversion. Only Naedek and Caruthers were charged in that case. They and two others were charged with the alleged plot to kill Gable.

Caruthers' wife, Dashielle Lashra, 43, was the first to win her release after 441 days in jail with an Alford plea in December on the murder conspiracy against Gable.

In January, David S. Pearl, 48, a Westminster lawyer now of Reisterstown, pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to murder Gable. Pearl then was found not criminally responsible and was released from jail - with orders that he pursue mental health treatment.

Caruthers is not discouraged by the series of guilty pleas, said his lawyer George Psoras.

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