The murder plot was, in the words of the woman targeted to die, “beyond sickening.”
That’s how Ira Bernstein’s estranged wife, Susan Bernstein, reportedly described a conspiracy he hatched with his lover, Kelly Gribeluk, to have Susan killed in a car crash that would have been staged as an accident.
Instead, authorities in Rockland County, New York, said, the local businessman Ira and Gribeluk contacted for the hit turned them in to the police last year — leading to their arrests and eventual guilty pleas to first-degree conspiracy, the Journal News reports.
Their plot, reportedly including a $2,000 down-payment and a parallel scheme to target two insurance investigators looking at Ira’s podiatry practice, left his would-be victim with no doubts about the character of the father of her three children.
“This is beyond sickening,” Susan said at Ira’s sentencing in January, the Journal News reports. “My children knew their father was evil.”
The judge who sentenced Ira and Gribeluk had strong words for the latter as well, calling her “cold and heartless,” according to the Rockland County Times.
On Friday night, Dateline will spotlight the case, including interviews with the conspirators at its center, who claim there was a softer side to their relationship.
“She completely understood me,” Ira tells Dateline‘s Andrea Canning in an exclusive clip above. “Like I found someone who actually got me. And she’s got a sexy kind of look to her.”
Both Ira and Gribeluk sat down with Canning after their guilty pleas in May.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
For her part, in the preview, Gribeluk describes the “chemistry” and shared romantic scars that bonded them. Ira was reportedly in the middle of a divorce, while Gribeluk had just emerged from a split and custody battle of her own.
“He started opening up to me about his separation and we had shared some intimate things and that we were going through very similar things,” she tells Canning in the preview.
And despite her eventual admission that she plotted to kill another man’s wife, Gribeluk claims on Dateline that she had urged Ira to find a way with his wife to “do what was best for their family.”
“Because I really, truly loved him,” Gribeluk says, “and I thought that whatever would make him happy is what I wanted for him.”
• PEOPLE’s special edition True Crime Stories: 35 Real Cases That Inspired the Show Law & Order is on sale now.
In court in January, Ira’s wife shared her own thoughts on the couple’s crime. According to the Times, she said, “Ira’s viciousness has changed everything — our attitudes, feelings, beliefs, behaviors, ways of coping, sleep, eating and trust in relationships.”
Of Gribeluk, she said, “She has no soul. Kelly’s actions ruined my life.”
Dateline airs Friday (10 p.m. ET) on NBC.