Woman plotted husband's death


Possible jail for mother who met would-be killer after she'd fled to shelter with children, court told
May 03, 2008

Courts Bureau


Tracy Browne and Rui Furtado started dating in 1998 but by the time they got married in 2003 things were already going downhill.

She alleges he was abusive. By the fall of 2005, after Peel police had investigated a variety of incidents at their house that year, Browne had moved into a shelter with her four young children.

The 30-year-old woman also obtained a restraining order against Furtado, 39, father of three of the girls.

Today, Browne is facing possible jail time for arranging to have her live-in companion, Maxwell Charles, kill Furtado for $5,000, although she never carried out the plan.

She met Charles, 33, who has a lengthy criminal record, in the shelter and relied on him for protection, according to an agreed statement of facts filed in Ontario Superior Court.

Browne gave Charles photos of the Furtado family, a detailed diagram of his house, and on Nov. 3, 2005 withdrew $2,500 from her credit card as a down payment for Charles that would also cover the purchase of a murder weapon.

That same day, Furtado was arrested for criminally harassing Browne, so it does appear she was "under stress" and "had concern for her safety," prosecutor Elizabeth Moore told Browne's sentencing hearing yesterday.

But before the plan could be carried out, Browne changed her mind. She has since pleaded guilty to counselling to commit murder, Moore said, noting these were mitigating factors for Justice Maureen Forestell to consider.

The Crown is seeking a three-year sentence.

Once Browne informed Charles "she had made a mistake," he asked her to put it in writing, then double-crossed her when he advised Furtado that his ex-wife had hired contract killers from Seattle who would accept $2,500 to call off the plan.

Furtado taped two of the calls and then turned them over to police on Feb. 1, 2006. Police then played the taped phone conversations to Browne, who identified Charles.

Charles was arrested and in October that year, after pleading guilty to extortion, he was sentenced to one day in custody after serving 253 days in pre-trial custody. He was also put on three years probation.

Charles then told police Browne was in on the murder plot and she was arrested and charged, along with Charles, with conspiracy to commit murder. She was released on bail with strict house arrest conditions on April 4, 2006.

Yesterday, Browne's lawyer Sid Freeman described her client as "unsophisticated and easily manipulated" and someone who had a "terrible lapse in judgment."

Forestell reserved her decision until June 2.