Woman pleads in murder-for-hire plot against witnesses

    A woman has pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire plot that prosecutors said targeted witnesses against her husband in a shooting death at an eastern Pennsylvania social club.

    Thirty-eight-year-old Sonia Panell entered the plea Friday in federal court in Philadelphia to soliciting the murder of three witnesses in the December 2012 gun battle outside a Puerto Rican social club in south Bethlehem that killed a woman and injured five other people.

    Federal prosecutors said Panell tried to hire an Ohio man to commit the murders, but he went to federal authorities instead.

    Northampton County jurors last fall convicted her husband, 34-year-old Rene Figueroa of Easton, of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, rejecting the first-degree murder conviction sought by prosecutors. He was sentenced last month to 15½ to 31 years in prison.

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