Brother pleads guilty in NC beheading plot

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - November 1, 2012

Shkumbin Sherifi pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to commit murder for hire along with a co-defendant, former special education teacher Nevine Aly Elshiekh of Raleigh.

Prosecutors offered a plea deal to both, agreeing to drop eight other counts in exchange for testimony against Hysen Sherifi at his trial, which is set to begin Monday.

Authorities say Hysen Sherifi asked an inmate to help him hire a hit man. Shkumbin Sherifi and Elshiekh then paid $5,000 to an FBI informant, who later provided faked pictures appearing to show the targeted witness shot and beheaded.

Shkumbin Sherifi and Elshiekh each face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines when they are sentenced in February.

The younger Sherifi's lawyer, James Payne, said after Thursday's hearing that the decision was a difficult one for his client.

"Obviously, this is his bother and this is a difficult time for Shkumbin, but he is ready to step forward and take responsibility for his actions," Payne said.

Elshiekh and her lawyer declined to comment. She will remain free on bond pending sentencing. Shkumbin Sherifi was earlier deemed a flight risk by a federal judge and will remain in custody.

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