The former owner of a Southern California skin care business that catered to celebrities was found not guilty Thursday of charges stemming from an alleged attempt to hire a former NFL player to kill one of her competitors.
Dawn DaLuise, 55, who owned the now-defunct Skin Refinery on Santa Monica Boulevard before the tangled alleged plot was uncovered, was charged last spring with a felony count of murder-solicitation.
Detectives from the sheriff's Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau were investigating a cyberstalking case in which DaLuise was the victim when they discovered the alleged murder solicitation, Deputy Peter Gomez of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau said at the time of her arrest.
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The target of the alleged murder-for-hire plot was Gabriel Suarez, who opened Smooth Cheeks next door to Skin Refinery seven months before the arrest. DaLuise may also have believed Suarez was behind the cyber stalking smear campaign and threats of violence toward her and her family.
A week after DaLuise was taken into custody, Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators arrested a man named Edward Feinstein, 30, who allegedly had a falling out with DaLuise, and was actually behind the cyber stalking.
Feinstein allegedly created and began distributing sexually explicit fliers containing a photo of DaLuise's face and allegedly posted ads on Craigslist posing as DaLuise and requesting males to act out a "rape fantasy," according to Capt. Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Headquarters Bureau.
But DaLuise allegedly believed the ads were posted by Suarez, the rival business owner, according to the sheriff's department.
DaLuise "then began communications by text and phone calls with more than one person in an effort to hire someone to kill the person she believed was trying to solicit rape against her and threaten the safety of her daughters," Parker said.
DaLuise has always maintained her innocence and claimed the entire thing was a misunderstanding.
"She broke out in tears and said 'thank you, thank you,'" her attorney Jamon Hicks said after the verdict was read.
According to the criminal complaint, the person DaLuise allegedly tried to hire was Chris Geile, an Anaheim native who played in three games as an offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions in 1987.
Sheriff's officials said in March 2014 that there was no evidence that anyone acted to carry out the killing.
On the company's website, DaLuise said she was a former Frederick's of Hollywood model whose skin-care clients have included Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Alicia Silverstone, Christina Ricci, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alyson Hannigan and Sally Struthers.
The company appears to have closed now, with the phone disconnected and the website suspended.