APRIL 13, 2006 - Posted at 7:56 a.m. CST
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A federal judge has sentenced a Walnut Ridge farmer to a three-year prison term for four wiretapping convictions. The punishment meted out Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes to Stuart Reithemeyer is triple the recommended maximum.
Holmes said Reithemeyer's own testimony in his October trial showed extraordinary circumstances that justified the three-year prison sentence. The 30-year-old Reithemeyer admitted to jurors last year that he paid what he called an "awfully shady" man to plant drugs in a vehicle used by his then-estranged wife, Elizabeth.
But he said the $1,500 he gave the man was not for the purpose of killing Elizabeth, as the man later claimed in notifying the FBI. Reithemeyer said he believed that his scheme would result in his wife being convicted of a crime and imprisoned for a short time, enabling him to get custody of the divorcing couple's two young sons.
The jury last year acquitted Reithemeyer of the murder-for-hire charge and a related charge of soliciting someone to commit a crime of violence. But jurors convicted him of secretly tape-recording Elizabeth Reithemeyer's telephone conversations with other people.