Suspect in Murder of Activist Mother-in-Law Accused of Plot to Kill Witnesses

Peggy Nadell

A woman accused of killing her 80-year-old mother-in-law tried to get rid of two prosecution witnesses by suggesting a murderous plot to a fellow jail inmate, the district attorney said Wednesday. 

A grand jury indictment added charges of conspiracy, witness intimidation and witness tampering to the first-degree murder case against Diana Nadell, said Rockland County prosecutor Thomas Zugibe.

A call to Nadell's lawyer, Luis Penichet, was not immediately returned. Nadell, 50, of Cutler Bay, Florida, has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

She was arrested in May and accused in the beating, choking and stabbing death of Peggy Nadell. Police said Diana Nadell and an accomplice lured Peggy Nadell to the door of her Valley Cottage home with a late-night phone call Jan. 25, then killed her.

Police: NY Activist, 80, Was Stabbed to Death

[NY] Police: NY Activist, 80, Was Stabbed to Death
Clarkstown residents have been shaken by the death of longtime committeewoman. Rob Schmitt has more.

Diana Nadell allegedly wanted access to her husband's share of his mother's multimillion-dollar estate. The husband has not been charged.

Peggy Nadell had been a county Democratic committeewoman and was outspoken on environmental and women's rights issues.

The alleged accomplice, Andrea Benson, and two other women charged in the case have pleaded guilty. The district attorney would not say if any of them were the witnesses targeted in the plot alleged Wednesday.

He said Diana Nadell, who was awaiting trial at the Orange County Jail in Goshen, approached a fellow inmate and asked her to take part in a scheme to murder two witnesses who are cooperating with the prosecution.

He said Nadell thought the inmate she approached was about to be deported to Jamaica.

The district attorney did not say how authorities learned of the alleged plot.

"This office will do everything in its power to vigorously prosecute those who seek to intimidate and harm witnesses," Zugibe said. "This new indictment underscores the lengths our law enforcement partners will go to ensure public safety — on both sides of the jail bars."

Nadell is due in court next month on the murder charge.