Fred Tokars, notorious Atlanta attorney who hired hit on wife, has died

ATLANTA — FIt was a case that gripped the metro Atlanta area in the early 90s after an Atlanta attorney hired a hit man to kill his wife.

Fred Tokars died last weekend in a federal prison in Pennsylvania, his attorney Jerry Froelich confirmed to Channel 2 Action News.

“At one time, Fred Tokars had the world by the tail?” Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne asked Froelich.

“Right, no doubt about it. The fall was tremendous,” Froelich said.

Tokars was once a politically connected successful attorney with a beautiful family. He was convicted of racketeering, money laundering and more, including taking a hit out on his wife, Sara, who was gunned down in front of the couple’s two young sons in 1992.


Buddy Parker served as the lead prosecutor in the case.

“He had a dual life. He had this public persona of this law-abiding, high-profile lawyer, loving family, politically connected and then there was the dark side, the underbelly of Fred Tokars,” Parker said. “He instituted what was undoubtedly a crime from hell because he caused the murder of the mother in the presence of his two sons. He thought his wife was going to expose that underside.”

“I just knew him as a client. I had a client who said he didn’t do it and he wanted a trial,” Froelich told Winne.

Froelich said he represented Tokars not only during the state murder trial, but also during his appeals that stretched out over 25 years, which Froelich said he did for free.

“I don’t think anything that could be done to those murderers could ever come close to what was done to her,” Terese Ambrusko, one of Sara Tokar’s sisters, said as she spoke out about the case in the 90s.

“Do you believe Tokars was innocent?” Winne asked Froelich.

“I don’t make those judgments,” Froelich said.

Froelich said Tokars’ brother told him an autopsy has been scheduled to determine a cause of death, but also said Fred Tokars had been confined to a wheelchair because of a degenerative disease as well as a beating he suffered while in prison.

Froelich said Tokars was in a witness security program, which is why some of his medical records are in the name of John Smith.

After he was convicted, Tokars helped put two people on death row in a case unrelated to his own.

Froelich said he tried to use Tokars’ cooperation in those murder cases and letters from prosecutors to get Tokars out of prison early, but federal prosecutors in Atlanta opposed it.

He said Parker did not weigh in on that in court, having since moved to private practice.