From the outside looking in, 42-year-old Ira Bernstein was living a perfect life. A successful New York podiatrist who was highly looked up to in his community and even had several close friends and patents in Rockland County’s law enforcement. However, behind this facade of success his walls were slowly crumbling down.
"Bernstein was our PBA doctor, and we all went to him," Detective Pete Louzan told the Ramapo Daily Voice. "He was a very personable guy, and his office was located right across the street from the department."
Ira Meets Susan
It was at Penn State in the 1990s when Ira met his future with Susan. At the time he was studying education, soon to receive his doctorate in podiatry. Susan and Ira married in 2002 and were happy. Eventually the couple started a family and was blessed with three beautiful children; two daughters and a son.
Ira’s family was living a comfortable life. His wife was a stay at home mother and a few successful real estate deals set them up for a successful future retirement. However, after ten years of marriage and raising their children, their marriage started declining.
Most married couples go through stressors and some can ride the storm while others decide to move on. Unfortunately for the family, Ira and Susan Bernstein decided that divorce was the best option for them. So in 2014, Susan filed for divorce from her husband.
Talk of domestic violence from Ira became public knowledge, threatening the successful persona that Ira had built up and was living. According to ABC News, Susan Bernstein claimed that her husband “used threats, intimidation, put-downs, name-calling, mind games and humiliation on a daily basis.”
Ira’s Hidden Troubles
Ira knew that a divorce settlement had the potential of tanking his practice, a business that he had to spend several years creating from the ground up. The practice wasn’t just struggling financially though, there were also several pending lawsuits from former patients against Bernstein.
In 2014, one former patient successfully sued Bernstein’s practice for $775,000 after the woman claimed that she couldn’t stand without pain following an operation performed by Ira.
A judge awarded another woman 1.4 million after Ira botched another operation in 2015. Ira was actively being investigated for insurance fraud and faced potential jail time if found guilty. To Bernstein, it was obvious what needed to be done to put his life back on track.
Murder For Hire Plot
Kelly Gribeluk met Ira through his practice as one of his patients. Bernstein quickly bonded with Gribeluk, a divorced mother of 3, and although she was 7 years his junior he claims that Kelly, “completely understood me” and told Dateline about the “chemistry” that the two shared with each other.
In 2016, Gribeluk walked into the office of Marckensy Louissaint and asked for a favor. Gribeluk, believing that Louissaint had connections to the ‘underworld’, proposed a ‘murder for hire’ scenario in which her boyfriend Ira would pay for someone to ‘get rid’ of their family.
The irony here is quite disgusting if you think about it.
A mother of 3 asking for a connection to not only to take her boyfriend’s wife “out of the picture”, but also their 3 children.
In order to arrest both Ira and Kelly, police had to approach the murder plot with caution. The entire investigation would last an entire month and would have to prove without a doubt that both parties wanted Bernstein’s family dead.
Inside, a car on Louissaint’s lot was wired with a camera and hidden audio devices. The footage is shocking. Kelly describes how she needs the murder to “look like an accident” and may be best if it was from a fatal car accident.
On the recording, Kelly said, “he’s in such conflict. The guy can’t sleep. He can’t eat. It’s a hard enough decision emotionally that his kids will be without a mom… So it’s like, he knows what he’s gotta do, but it’s killing him.
Not only was Susan at her children to be murdered but also two United Healthcare insurance investigators had to be beat up badly and convinced to drop their investigation.
It Was the Boyfriend’s Idea
Inside the car and captured on tape, we can hear Kelly saying, “he’s the boss”. They negotiated the murder for hire plot down from $200,000 to $100,000 after Ira met with Louissaint in person. “We were thinking ASAP”, said Ira Bernstein when asked when he wanted the job done.
Police contacted both investigators and using professional makeup artist had them made up to look like someone severely beat them up.
On March 2, 2016, police arrested both Ira Bernstein and his girlfriend Kelly Gribeluk. Kelly pleaded guilty to 3 counts of conspiracy in September 2016. Ira pleaded guilty to one felony of second degree conspiracy and two misdemeanor counts of fifth degree conspiracy for the assault of the insurance investigators. He also pleaded guilty to larceny.
In May 2017, they sentenced Ira Bernstein to 15 years with a chance of parole after 5 years. Kelly Gribeluk was sentenced to 12 years with the possibility of parole after 4 years.