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Ohio defense attorney Maridee Costanzo made a reputation for herself as one aggressive, tough-talking and remarkably profane lawyer. She once called a judge a “sick, twisted old man” in a voice mail message. Another time, she told a client who was considering a divorce to max out her husband’s credit cards. The woman did, going on a $14,000 shopping spree. But all of that was nothing compared with what she said in federal court on Thursday: She admitted trying to have her estranged husband killed. Costanzo, 47, is accused of making a $1,100 downpayment in April toward a $5,000 hit on her husband, Roger Bauer. Prosecutors did not offer a motive, and Costanzo did not explain in court. She could get up to 10 years in prison at sentencing Aug. 4. She pleaded guilty in the murder-for-hire plot before a judge could even finish stating the charge against her. “I’ve heard it. I’ve read it, ad nauseam,” she said. U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. asked her if she knew she had a right to a jury trial. “Been there. Done that. Understand thoroughly,” Costanzo replied. A psychological evaluation of Costanzo concluded that she has manic depression. She also acknowledged a drug problem, specifically with OxyContin. The one-time congressional candidate, whose past clients include a member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, often proved to be more colorful than her clients in the Youngstown, Ohio, and Warren, Ohio, areas. The FBI said agents learned about the plot from William Cindea, the middleman who was supposed to hire the hit man. After police stopped his car in March for having a suspended license, Cindea volunteered the information about the scheme and agreed to record conversations with Costanzo. “I’m not joking around. I’ve had it with the [expletive]. He’s f—– my entire life up,” she said in a recorded conversation, according to the FBI. Costanzo was also heard suggesting that the hit man kill Bauer in St. Petersburg, Fla., as he left a favorite restaurant. “Are you gonna be able to live with yourself?” Cindea asked. “Yeah, happily, the rest of my life. I’m gonna tinkle on his grave every year,” she said. Three years earlier, Costanzo boasted between drags on a cigarette in her smoke-saturated law office that she would become a member of Congress, winning the seat that formerly belonged to Jim Traficant, who had been convicted of racketeering. Costanzo called her opponents in the Democratic primary “barking goats.” For all her bravado, Costanzo got just 8 percent of the vote in a crowded primary field. In 1997, Costanzo was accused of three counts of legal misconduct: for the “twisted old man” remark, for the credit card advance and for calling a police officer a “silver-tongued devil bastard” after he testified against her client. She kept her law license, but it was suspended after she was charged in the murder-for-hire case. Costanzo still faces weapons charges resulting from the traffic stop in which Cindea was pulled over. Police said they found a loaded gun in her blue jeans and a pistol under the passenger seat. Bauer, 57, did not immediately return a phone call Thursday. A year ago, Costanzo represented one of 14 members of the Outlaws motorcycle club at a trial in Toledo. Her client was convicted of conspiracy. Defense attorney John Thebes sat next to Costanzo during the three-month trial and had trouble hearing witnesses because of her chatter. “She talked a lot like a sailor. She was very opinionated. Very passionate about her client,” Thebes said. Yet she had a sweet side. “She would always bring the gum and suckers,” Thebes said. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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