TODAY   |  September 28, 2012

Joe Pesci’s ex-wife jailed for hiring hitman

Actress and model Claudio Haro, former wife of actor Joe Pesci, pleaded no contest to hiring a hitman to shoot her estranged husband, Garrett Warren. Warren was a Hollywood stuntman at the top of the game when he opened his door and sustained a bullet to the face.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> life drama involving a hollywood stunt man and the hired hit man who showed up at his door. nbc's josh mankiewicz is in kansas city . josh, good morning.

>> reporter: this is one of those truth is stranger than fiction stories which is really not surprising given that it has a hollywood backdrop and that one of the players is a very well-known name. garrett warren was at the top of his game, a hollywood stunt man who had mastered the art of make believe violence. but one night he answered the door of his home and faced the real thing.

>> when a bullet hits you, you don't really know that it hits you. not like you see in the movies.

>> reporter: but he was hit, four times, at close range.

>> i fell back behind my door to the ground, and then he walked in and put the gun in my head and when i saw him squeeze the trigger i flinched just like this, like a fighter would. the bullet went straight through my head and came out my head.

>> pretty good reflexes.

>> like "the matrix," keanu going back and hitting him. so as much as i moved, i still got hit.

>> reporter: somehow garrent warren survived. now the question was who shot him and why?

>> it was apparent that this was a hi. dealing with a hit man scenario.

>> reporter: and police eventually did find what they found a hit note targeting garrett , evidence that ultimately led to a glammious fem me fatale. garrett 's ex-wife claudio harrow an actress and model who appeared in the gangster movie "the casino can the "and once was married to one of the more famous gangster movie actors ever, actor joe persony.

>> do you know who shot garrett warren?

>> i don't know.

>> do you know why he was shot?

>> no, i don't know.

>> reporter: but at the time of the shooting claudia and garrett were in the midst of a bitter divorce. had the one-time wife of a movie hit man hired a hit man in real life ?

>> this is one of those stranger nan nix kind of things. certainly nobody would write a script like this because they would have a look that any self-respecting director or producer would look, the look you're having in a hollywood movie and say come on, that's ridiculous.

>> reporter: building a case against claudia harrow took years, strange twists and lucky breaks. but in the end she pleaded no contest to charges she tried to have her ex-husband, the stunt man, killed.

>> i was raised that we're all going to get tested once, at least once. and how are we going to handle that test?

>> this was my test.

>> reporter: a lot more twists and turns to this story. the tale of how claudia harrow is accused of manipulated to having other people take part in this hit is something that you will not believe. that's tonight on "dateline."

>> and we will be watching. josh mankiewicz . see more of josh's story tonight on "dateline," 10:00 , 9:00 central, right here on nbc.