Salvatore P. Spinnato, an admitted con man who fled the state last year to avoid abduction charges, was convicted yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court of kidnapping, assault and false imprisonment in an attack on his ex-wife's boyfriend.
Judge Barbara Kerr Howe also convicted the 54-year-old Spinnato's accomplice, Homer Paul Shaffer, 31, of the same charges in the July 3, 1996, incident. She found both men not guilty of handgun charges.
The judge's ruling came after a two-day trial in which Spinnato testified that he only meant to intimidate the victim the day he lured the man to a vacant house where an accomplice waited with an electrical stun gun.
While Spinnato admitted he bought a stun device that gave off electric shocks and brought Lynn R. Hogg, 40, to the Arbutus house, he said, "There was not supposed to be an altercation. There was supposed to be an intimidation."
Spinnato said he wanted "to intimidate [Hogg] to the point he would call off his association with" Elizabeth Smith, Spinnato's ex-wife.
On Monday, Hogg told the judge that Spinnato and Shaffer repeatedly shocked and beat him with the electrical device and held a semiautomatic gun to his head while threatening his life and the lives of his children.
Yesterday, Spinnato, a longtime con artist who police say has used numerous aliases, apologized to Hogg about the assault and denied he and Shaffer had a handgun.
But he said Hogg's story about the kidnapping, beating and the threats to his life "has taken a life of its own."
Spinnato also explained why he fled Maryland a year ago for eight months when he was originally scheduled to go on trial.
"I just couldn't conceive it was a kidnapping. Yes, it was an assault, and there certainly wasn't any [handgun]. I just couldn't face" the charges, he said.
After Spinnato was caught in Texas and returned to Maryland, he tried to avoid going to trial by filing an insanity plea.
At a hearing in November, a doctor-friend testified that Spinnato wasn't competent to stand trial because his mind was impaired from drinking 25 cups of coffee a day. The caffeine defense, however, was rejected.
Sentencing is set for March 4.
Pub Date: 2/11/98