A judge has ruled that attorneys for a Harford County bar owner accused of contracting with an undercover state trooper to kill his former girlfriend's lover by mutilation should have only limited knowledge of an informant's relationship with police.
Harford County Circuit Judge William O. Carr said the defense should be privy to police reports mentioning any contact the informant had with investigators concerning the alleged murder solicitation.
But Carr denied a defense motion that sought to force the prosecutor to reveal whether the informant had provided information about the accused, Giovanni Rivieri, at other times, including alleged drug dealing in 1990 at Rivieri's bar, the Bush Valley Inn in Abingdon.
Rivieri's trial is scheduled to start Tuesday.
During a hearing Wednesday, defense attorneys Russell J. White and Richard M. Karceski tried to show that Rivieri was entrapped by the informant, a former employee.
Assistant State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks countered that informant's safety would jeopardized by revealing the nature of any relationship with police.
"Her safety is very much at issue," Brooks said of the informant, whom she called a "tipster" in the solicitation case.
It's one thing to say the woman provided information in the solicitation case, the prosecutor told the judge. "It's another thing to say that she's a drug snitch," Brooks said.
White maintained that the informant helped establish contact between Rivieri and troopers posing as hit men and that the woman had an on-going relationship with police.
Court records show that Rivieri, 60, wanted to pay $3,500 to have someone break the arms and legs of Ronald Soto, 53, of Levittown, Pa., and cut off Soto's penis.
Rivieri, who has been held without bond at the Harford County Detention Center since his arrest May 30, allegedly wanted Soto to be left in an area where he would bleed to death, according to court records.
Court records identify Soto as the lover of Rivieri's former girlfriend. Rivieri also is charged with trying to have the woman girlfriend beaten at the same time, or to have someone "knock her in the head," according to court records.
After the hearing, White said he had not decided whether to call the informant to testify during Rivieri's trial.
Brooks said she did not intend to call the informant to testify. Instead, Brooks said she would base her case on tape-recorded statements Rivieri allegedly made to an undercover trooper last spring.