Bar owner found guilty in maiming plot Harford man convicted of seeking assault.

December 13, 1991|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Evening Sun Staff

A Harford County Circuit Court jury has found bar owner Giovanni Rivieri guilty of three lesser criminal charges and not of solicitation to commit murder as had been sought by a prosecutor.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about three hours yesterday before returning its verdict.

Jurors found Rivieri, 60, owner of the Bush Valley Inn in Abingdon, guilty of solicitation to maim a truck driver who was identified as the current lover of the defendant's ex-girlfriend.

He also was found guilty of solicitation to commit assault and battery against the trucker, Ronald Soto, 53, of Levittown, Pa., and solicitation to commit assault and battery against his ex-girlfriend, a waitress.

Assistant County State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks had attempted to show through testimony from an undercover state trooper, who posed as a hit man, that Rivieri wanted Soto killed.

Tapes of alleged conversations between Rivieri and the trooper last May indicated that the defendant wanted Soto to be choked and tied up, and his penis then cut off.

Rivieri also was accused of trying to have his ex-girlfriend beaten at the same time.

During the trial and arguments this week, Brooks contended that Rivieri knew that what he wanted to have done to Soto would result in death.

But defense attorneys had argued that Rivieri only wanted to harm Soto, not kill him.

Judge Maurice W. Baldwin set sentencing for Jan. 24. Rivieri faces a maximum sentence of about 30 years in prison. Had he been convicted of the murder solicitation charge, he would have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Although Rivieri had been held without bond at the County Detention Center since his arrest last May, Baldwin sided with defense attorneys and agreed to release him on a $250,000 property bond.

Brooks argued against Rivieri's release, saying he had been plotting against the intended victims for more than a year.

"Numerous references were made to killing these people," she told the judge, referring to the alleged conversations Rivieri had with the undercover trooper.

Richard M. Karceski, one of Rivieri's defense attorneys, said after the verdict: "I think we came as close to winning as we could have. I certainly feel good that the judge allowed Mr. Rivieri his freedom."

Brooks said she feared for the safety of the intended victims.

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