Undercover trooper testifies bar owner wanted him as hit man

December 12, 1991|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Evening Sun Staff

Giovanni Rivieri "stalked" his ex-girlfriend and her current lover for more than a year before trying to hire a hit man to kill the man and assault the woman, a Harford County prosecutor has said.

"He had their routine down to the minute," Diana A. Brooks, an assistant county state's attorney, told a Harford Circuit Court jury yesterday in Bel Air. In her opening statement during the murder-for-hire trial of Rivieri, an Abingdon bar owner, Brooks said the defendant was willing to pay for the crime in cash, jewelry or cocaine.

Much of yesterday's testimony came from a former undercover state trooper who told the jury he posed as a hit man in the investigation. The trooper played taped conversations that he said were between himself and the defendant. A voice that the trooper identified as that of Rivieri was heard to say that the intended male victim should be choked and tied up before having his penis cut off.

"The boy is going to bleed to death," the trooper was heard to say on one tape. The other man said he did not care.

But defense attorneys, through cross-examination, tried to show that Rivieri never specifically asked to have truck driver Ronald Soto, 53, of Levittown, Pa., killed. "The solicitation was done by the state," defense attorney Russell J. White contended during his opening statement.

White tried to show that Rivieri's first meeting with the undercover trooper was arranged by a police informant, not the defendant. Rivieri never called the trooper, he said.

After Brooks had finished presenting the prosecution's case, defense attorneys also sought to have the solicitation charge dismissed on the grounds that no medical expert testified as to whether cutting off a man's penis would result in death.

Judge Maurice W. Baldwin denied the motion and allowed the case to proceed.

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