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Emerson Painter Whose Wife Disappeared Admits Living Under Phony ID

Paschal Delahunty
Paschal Delahunty Photo Credit: Mary Miraglia

EMERSON, N.J. -- An Emerson man whose wife went missing eight years ago admitted Monday that he used his dead friend's identity to living illegally in the U.S.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Paschal Delahunty must self-deport to Ireland, then present himself to the U.S. Embassy in Dublin where he swore he will renounce all rights to his false American citizenship.

The day of his Jan. 15 sentencing, Delahunty “will be required to present an airline ticket to me showing he is going back to Ireland," Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer said.

Delahunty, a 52-year-old painter, had been living in the U.S. for more than 15 years under the Joseph A. Murlphy, a childhood friend who died in a motorcycle crash in their native County Carlow  ( SEE: Husband of missing Emerson woman lived under childhood friend’s identity ).

Delahunty has remained held on $100,000 bail — down from an original $350,000 -- since his arrest on Christmas Eve last year on charges of using false documents to renew his driver's license.

Meanwhile, the investigation of the sudden disappearance of Liza Murphy in 2007 was continuing.

The former Liza Stellatos went missing just days before her husband deliberately walked out in front of a fire official’s cruiser in a suicide attempt in neighboring Westwood. A recovering alcoholic, he had tried to kill himself once before, in 1990, authorities said at the time.

Police earlier had questioned him about his then-42-year-old wife’s disappearance, which was reported by one of her friends. He told them she took off after he confronted her about an affair, leaving behind her purse, cellphone, keys, cigarettes — and their three children.

Nor did she bring medication she was taking for fibromyalgia, a sometimes debilitating muscle and tissue condition, authorities said.

Stellato-Murphy's brothers, Anthony and Michael, were in court on Monday along with her cousin, Diane Hobbing.

She called Monday's plea “a hollow victory, but it’s better than nothing.”

"I think he got what he wanted all along,” she said, noting that Delahunty had a ticket to Ireland a year ago when he was arrested.

Should conclusive proof of Delahunty's possible guilt in his wife's disppearance emerge, Beren County Undersheriff Joseph Hornyak told Daily Voice, "he'll be extradited and tried."

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino -- who, like Hornyak, lives in Emerson -- was the borough police chief when Stellato-Murphy went missing.

Delahunty has three adult children.

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