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Confessed Hit Man Recants Claims Against Rabbi In Notorious Slaying

(AP Photo/David Maialetti)
Fred Neulander

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS/AP) The man who has long claimed that a southern New Jersey rabbi hired him to kill his wife in 1994 has now recanted his story.

Len Jenoff has twice testified that Fred Neulander hired him to kill his wife, Carol, inside the couple's home in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill so the rabbi could carry on an affair.

Jenoff, a one-time private investigator, has recanted his allegations in an affidavit filed this month by Neulander's court-appointed lawyer, who is seeking a new trial for the rabbi, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"Fred Neulander never asked me to kill his wife, and to the best of my knowledge he never had any idea of any attempt on his wife's life," Jenoff said in the two-page affidavit dated Jan. 26.

Neulander, now serving a life term at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, has maintained that Jenoff and a second man bludgeoned his wife during a robbery gone bad. Neulander must serve at least 20 more years before he'll become eligible for parole.

Jenoff, 63, is serving a 23-year sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter and agreeing to cooperate with authorities. He also alleges prosecutors reneged on a "sweetheart deal" promising him a five-year sentence.

(AP Photo/Courier Post)
Carol Neulander

Authorities deny there was any such agreement.

Neulander, now 67, was tried twice. The first jury deadlocked on charges, but the second one convicted him in 2002.

Defense attorneys at both trials tried to cast doubt on the credibility of Jenoff, who at various times has claimed to have contacts with the CIA and the Israeli secret service.

In his affidavit, Jenoff claims law enforcement wanted Neulander tied to the killing and that during the nine years he has already served, he had "a great deal of time to think about what I did in implicating Fred Neulander, an innocent man, and I wanted to set the record straight."

Neulander has already exhausted his legal appeals. The state Supreme Court declined to hear his case in 2007.

His request for post-conviction relief is based on two arguments: the first claims Neulander's trial lawyer and appellate lawyer were ineffective, while the second alleges he was denied due process because authorities withheld the fact that Jenoff had been promised a light prison sentence for his testimony.

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