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‘He Needs His Pretty Little Face Bashed In,’ a Therapist Tells an Undercover F.B.I. Agent

The New Jersey psychotherapist wanted revenge, and, as luck would have it, one of her patients had revealed in his therapy sessions that he was a former member of an organized criminal gang, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Monday.

And that’s how the therapist, Diane Sylvia, ended up giving orders to an F.B.I. agent posing as a hit man to beat up someone who was blackmailing her, according to the complaint.

“He needs his pretty little face bashed in, that’s what I really want.”

“A broken arm would help, too.”

“Something so he can’t do push-ups, so he can’t work out.”

A licensed social worker who counsels individuals, couples and children in her office in Linwood, N.J., Ms. Sylvia, 58, was charged on Monday in federal court in Camden with one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence. She was released on $50,000 bail. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Repeated calls to Ms. Sylvia were not returned. Her lawyer, identified by the government as Michel A. Paulhus, declined to comment.

According to the government complaint, the case began to take shape in September when the F.B.I. received a call from the former member of the unspecified criminal gang.

The former gang member told the F.B.I. that his psychotherapist, Ms. Sylvia, had learned about his links to organized crime in therapy sessions, according to the complaint, and then she asked him for help in finding someone who could commit a murder for her.

Instead, the former member cooperated with the F.B.I. and arranged a meeting with the undercover F.B.I. agent, the document said. (He then canceled the rest of his therapy sessions.)

At their first meeting in early October, Ms. Sylvia explained to the undercover agent that she no longer wanted to have her enemy killed, but just disfigured and assaulted, court papers said.

She later repeated, “I really just want his face punched in, I swear to God. And his arm broken, that’s what I want,” according to the court document. When the agent asked why Ms. Sylvia wanted to do this, she told him the man had been extorting money from her for years because he “ended up with some stuff on me that he was gonna report me to the licensing board, which means I have no job,” the criminal complaint said.

The F.B.I. agent asked her how the assault would help if the man who she wanted hurt did not even know she had arranged it, the complaint said. “It’s just gonna make me feel better,” she told him.

On Oct. 19, according to the complaint, Ms. Sylvia paid the undercover agent $1,000 for providing her with advice and saying he had found the man’s truck in North Attleboro, Mass. On Oct. 31, at a meeting in her office, she paid the F.B.I. agent $4,000 for the full amount of the contract to assault and disfigure the targeted man, according to the court document.

The F.B.I. agent advised her after taking the payment that she should dispose of the prepaid cellphone they had been speaking on after the assault was completed. “Can I go to the Ocean City bridge and throw it off? Is that good enough?” she asked him, the complaint said.

Instead of getting that confirmation, Ms. Sylvia was arrested by the F.B.I. on Friday, and held at the Cape May County Correctional Center until her court appearance on Monday, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said.

A version of this article appears in print on

, on Page

A

31

of the New York edition

with the headline:

Patient Had a Criminal Past. His Therapist Is Charged.

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