Thursday, November 11, 1999

Millionaire gets 10 years for hit attempt


Investigator: More charges possible

BY SUSAN VELA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Albert J. Schuholz Jr., a 68-year-old multimillionaire with addresses in West Chester and Crittenden, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for trying to have his fourth wife and her sister murdered.

        But a Sharonville officer said Mr. Schuholz may face more charges if his department's continuing investigation of the death of Mr. Schuholz's second wife, Marie, in 1981, bears fruit.

        “Just stay tuned,” said Sgt. Dale Dorning, who noted there could be something new released in the open murder case within the next few days.

        Sgt. Dorning was in U.S. District in Covington on Wednesday to offer emotional support to Norma Schuholz, Mr. Schuholz's fourth wife, and her sister Martha Schomaker.

        Norma Schuholz had left her husband and was living in Boone County when Mr. Schuholz tried to hire someone to kill her and her sister.

        After six years of marriage, Mr. Schuholz and his wife were moving toward a divorce in June 1998. They had become involved in a financial dispute.

        In May, Mr. Schuholz pleaded guilty to one of three counts of traveling in interstate commerce with the intent that a murder be committed. The charge that he pleaded guilty to stemmed from allegations that he traveled from Cincinnati to Campbell County on July 14, 1998, and offered to pay $5,000 and provide a car to a man who ultimately became an informant.

        A Boone County sheriff's deputy involved in the case says the informant had been fired by Mrs. Schuholz, who was heading a corporation, when Mr. Schuholz approached him about commiting the murder.

        That man eventually went to Mrs. Schuholz to tell her about what her husband was plotting, the deputy said.

        At Wednesday's sentencing, Mrs. Schomaker wrapped her arm around her sister, Norma, as they sat in the federal courtroom.

        Mr. Schuholz was wearing a faded black-and-white prison jumpsuit; and, before proceedings began, he leaned calmly on his right elbow while sitting at a court table. He looked back at the women once before he put on his glasses and the sentencing began.

        He and his attorney, Harry Hellings of Covington, stood at a lectern. U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman asked Mr. Schuholz if he had committed the act he pleaded guilty to.

        “I have to say yes, sir,” he said.

        As part of a plea deal, Mr. Schuholz is expected to be sentenced to 97 months — or a little over eight years — in federal prison. But Judge Bertelsman said he would give him the maximum sentence of 10 years while Mr. Schuholz undergoes a physical and mental evaluation at a federal prison hospital.

        Mr. Hellings told the judge the evaluation was needed because of Mr. Schuholz's “major heart condition” and rapid physical deterioration in the last several months.

        The attorney hinted that Mr. Schuholz's time in prison could be causing the problems. That made Mrs. Schuholz and Mrs. Schomaker scoff.

        “He's just fine,” Mrs. Schuholz said. “This is nothing new for him. This is something he has done for a long time.”

        Her sister couldn't talk about the sentencing.

        “It's very hard,” she said, starting to cry. “It's been a very hard situation. I lost everything. It's very hard.”

        Mrs. Schuholz likened the court proceeding to someone's death.

        “It was like going to a funeral, like attending a wake,” said Mrs. Schuholz, whose divorce has not been made final. “I was married to him. I believed in him.”

        She recalled learning about the 1981 death of Marie Schuholz. She remembers learning that the woman had been 54 when she died — the same age as Mrs. Schuholz at the time she learned of her husband's murder-for-hire plans.

        She recalled seeing a newspaper picture of the former Mrs. Schuholz being taken from her apartment on a stretcher.

        “"That's what's going to happen to me,'” she said she remembered thinking. “I decided I needed to re-write the ending to this.”

        Marie Schuholz, who had divorced Mr. Schuholz, and her Sharonville roommate Starla Burns were found stabbed to death in their Sharonville apartment in 1981. There was no sign of forced entry or struggle. They were beaten, and their throats had been slashed.

        The Schuholzes had been involved in a contentious divorce involving charges of forgery and repeated threats. Mr. Schuholz has never been charged in that case, though he was questioned repeatedly.

       



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