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Ponca City woman charged in international murder-for-hire plot pleads guilty to ricin possession

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Ponca City woman charged last year with allegedly trying to hire a person to kill her former husband pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing the toxin ricin.

According to the plea agreement filed in the Western District of Oklahoma Thursday, 37-year-old Danielle Layman pleaded to knowingly possessing the toxin and that its possession wasn’t registered with the government. Prosecutors will dismiss the murder-for-hire count at sentencing.

Federal prosecutors filed charges in July 2017 that alleged Layman tried to hire another woman in a murder-for-hire plot against Layman’s ex-husband, who lives in Israel.

A grand jury indicted Layman — who also goes by the names Samantha Dowry, Danielle Givati Dana Abecassis and Danielle Bonaparte — in August on one count of using interstate communications to commit murder. Last October, a grand jury added one count of ricin possession without proper registration.

Ricin is a poison found in castor beans and can be fatal if ingested, inhaled or injected. Ricin poisoning has no known antidote.

Federal agents searched Layman’s Ponca City home on June 30 and found several dozen castor beans in the kitchen, as well as instructions on how to make ricin, according to the criminal complaint. She was arrested and charged the next day.

Court documents allege Layman posted an advertisement on Craigslist in April 2017 to locate someone interested in a “10 day gig overseas”. On May 9, a woman who replied with interest in the offer met with Layman, according to court documents. During that meeting Layman — using the name Samantha Dowry — showed the woman a PowerPoint presentation on the logistics of the murder and the identity of the target, who is a taxi driver. The instructions were titled “Operation Insecticide”.

During the meeting, Layman also allegedly gave the woman a package supposedly containing ricin and was warned about opening it without the use of gloves.

Layman (Dowry) offered $1,000 for personal expenses for the trip to Tel Aviv, Israel and another $4,000 if she was successful. According to the mission details shown to the woman, and listed in the criminal complaint, the instructions detailed how to seek out the target and add the ricin to his coffee.

After the meeting that day the woman contacted a lawyer, and later the FBI, detailing her meeting with Samantha Dowry, later learning the woman’s name is Danielle Layman.

According to the affidavit, Layman was the former Director of Nursing for the Israeli Ministry of Labor. Israeli news reports detail Layman was in a custody battle with the target, who is her ex-husband, over visitation rights with their daughter. Reports say the couple divorced in 2003 and Layman married an American soldier in 2010, according to the complaint.

With Layman’s guilty plea, she faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.