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Crime News Dateline

Popular Deli Shop Owner Who Hates To Lose Takes Hit Out On Estranged Wife

Unraveling Glenn Sandler's sinister murder-for-hire plot would require a brazen undercover operation, faked drug run and staged hit. 

By Jill Sederstrom

Glenn Sandler served up some of the best sandwiches in Palm Beach, Florida, but it was his plans to order up a murder that would land him behind bars. 

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Sandler, a wealthy entrepreneur and owner of the Gourmet Deli, was caught trying to hire a hitman to kill his wife after a brazen undercover operation, faked drug run and staged hit, all orchestrated to bring this would-be killer to justice, according to Oxygen’s Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.

Who is Glenn Sandler? 

Sandler made a name for himself in Palm Beach as the owner of a popular deli.

“We were doing about $3 million a year in business,” former restaurant manager Rich Hardy told Dateline’s Keith Morrison. “For a 150 seat deli, you know, that’s an incredible amount. We would have waiting lines two hours long for people to come and eat dinner.” 

Sandler’s employees said the married father was a frequent presence at the deli, often working alongside his employees from open to close before heading home to his beautiful wife Betty Schuessler and their two young sons. 

“They got along great,” Andy Garnett, who had sold Sandler the successful deli, said of the marriage. “He had a little house down in the Keys. I rode down there with him and spent a few days out on his boat, fishing, not that I’m much of a fisherman. He wasn’t all flashy or anything, just a real nice guy.” 

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But those who knew him said he was also a man who didn’t like to lose.

What Drove Glenn Sandler to Want to Kill His Wife?

It was his determination to succeed that may have led to his downfall. 

By 2004, after more than two decades together, Betty filed for divorce from her husband. Glenn was not only losing his wife, but he also stood to lose his business, beloved airplane, and home in an elite Palm Beach neighborhood.

"At one point he offered her more than $2 million and she said that’s not enough. It’s not enough, I want more,” Deirdra Funcheon, a reporter for the Broward Palm Beach New Times explained. “And this bugged him to no end.” 

Deirdra Funcheon featured on Dateline Secrets Uncovered Episode 1203

Sandler’s life began to unravel. His employees said he stopped showing up to the deli as often and, according to Funcheon, he began doing cocaine and spending time in seedy models with women. 

In the fall of 2005, Sandler reached out to his friend and drug dealer Chris Robinson to ask if he would “throw a birthday party for his wife,” a code for killing her. 

The plan was for Robinson and his associates to use two cars to ram into Betty at an intersection, making her death look like a traffic altercation. Sandler gave Robinson $5,000 to carry out the hit, but before the plan could ever be put in place Robinson got arrested on a separate drug charge.

With his own future now hanging in the balance, Robinson turned on Sandler and told police that Sandler was planning to take out a hit on his wife. Authorities arranged for an undercover FBI agent to pose as Robinson’s boss and offer to carry out the hit himself. The agent, who went by the cover name “Fred,” quickly dismissed Robinson’s flimsy plan for carrying out the murder. 

“This guy wants her (expletive) done and you’re gonna have her (expletive) bedridden with a back problem. Next thing she’ll be in a wheelchair the rest of her life,” he told Sandler in one taped conversation. 

Instead, Fred proposed a $20,000 plan to use lime to eat away at the body to leave no trace of Betty. 

Talk of Murder Turns To Drug Trafficking

Sandler began to believe he had found a kindred spirit of sorts in Fred and the two men began to bond about more than just murder. 

When Fred let it slip during one conversation that he not only sold drugs but also transported them, Sandler revealed a secret about his own past. In the 1980s, Sandler said he had used a speed boat to smuggle drugs into the country from Colombia. 

“I mean, I had a couple of customers….But I’d get $1,000 a key no matter what. Just to transport. OK?” he boasted during one taped interaction. “And I have always had a minimum of 100. So, I’d get $100,000 just to get out of bed.” 

Glenn Sandler's Sharp, Drug-Fueled Downward Spiral

As a pilot himself, Sandler volunteered to help Fred move his drugs using his own plane. 

Not wanting to blow his cover, the federal agent had to think fast on his feet and in order to convince Sandler he was the criminal he claimed to be, authorities staged a drug run.

Sandler flew Fred to Sebring, Florida where they met a supposed associate of Fred’s named T-Bone, a man who was secretly another agent, and couriered 5 kilos of cocaine back to Palm Beach. 

Was Betty Sandler Killed? 

With the fake drug run complete, Sandler turned his focus back to the murder of his wife. Although Fred gave him multiple opportunities to back out of the plan, Sandler didn’t see any other solution.

“She’s done.” he said in one recording. “It’s like somebody that blackmails you. You can’t let it happen. Because once it starts, it never f-cking stops. They don’t go away.” 

Sandler also believed his wife could reveal a tax issue from a cash business they once owned together and thought that was another reason to take her out of the picture. 

In their final meeting before the supposed hit, Sandler — who felt his wife was never satisfied — told Fred to ask her “is this enough?” in her final moments. 

The day the murder was supposed to take place, on Nov. 8, 2005, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Detective Jason L'Etoile followed Betty’s car to a stoplight, pulled her over and informed her of her husband’s plan.

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“I told her her husband had hired someone to kill her that, fortunately, was an undercover police officer,” L'Etoile said. “She really wasn’t surprised…She acted sort of really exasperated…kind of, a ‘What now?’ sort of thing.” 

Betty agreed to cooperate, handing over her phone and other personal items to make it look like the act had been completed. L’Etoile then abandoned her car at a grocery store parking lot to make it look as though she had been ambushed while shopping.

The next day Fred arranged to meet Sandler in a parking lot to get the final installment of his pay. 

“Dude, she’s dead. She’s done. Done,” he told Sandler. “You don’t want to talk about it.” 

As soon as Fred left the clandestine meeting, officers moved in to arrest Sandler. 

He ultimately pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit first-degree murder and trafficking in cocaine and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars. Betty, who declined to participate in Dateline, went on with her life.