Spinnato sentenced to 35 years for assault He was convicted in July 1996 kidnapping

March 05, 1998|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Con man and felon Salvatore Spinnato was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for kidnapping and assaulting his ex-wife's boyfriend in July 1996 at a vacant house in Arbutus where Spinnato and an accomplice beat and threatened to kill the man.

In seeking leniency yesterday, Spinnato asked his victim, Lynn R. Hogg, for forgiveness, but told Baltimore County Circuit Judge Barbara Kerr Howe that the kidnapping charges and Hogg's testimony that Spinnato repeatedly beat him with an electrical stun gun and threatened his children were exaggerated.

"A lot of it is hype," said Spinnato, 55, who only admitted assaulting Hogg once.

Howe, who last month convicted Spinnato and his accomplice, Homer Paul Shaffer, yesterday also sentenced Shaffer, 31, to 20 years in prison for his involvement.

The case was shown on the national television program "Unsolved Mysteries" last year when Spinnato fled the state for eight months to avoid facing trial.

Hogg told Howe in an emphatic statement that his abduction and beating was "a life-changing event."

"He threatened the lives of my children." Now, nearly two years after the crime, "I look over my shoulder every single day," said the sales and marketing director for a computer software company.

During the trial, Hogg told the judge that Shaffer made references to items in his children's bedrooms to show he had been in Hogg's home and knew where to find his children.

Yesterday, Shaffer told Howe, "I'm sorry the incident went down the way it did. I intended no harm to Mr. Hogg." Shaffer's wife, Kelly Dorr, with a toddler and baby in the courtroom, wept as she asked the judge not to take her children's father away from them.

Spinnato told the judge, "I deserve to be punished. I'm not denying there was an assault." But he said the case "has taken a life of its own" and denied he kidnapped Hogg or repeatedly beat him.

Spinnato's longtime lawyer, Salvatore E. Anello, acknowledged that "if you look at the legend of the con man it's very difficult to separate truth from fiction."

Anello asked Howe for a two-year sentence for his client with restitution and community service, because Spinnato's criminal history had not involved violence.

Anello, who repeatedly has called the kidnapping "a domestic case," also accused the state's attorney's office of using "an hTC elephant gun to kill an ant." Spinnato, he said, is "not the public enemy as he was portrayed."

Spinnato's sister-in-law, Janice Spinnato, apologized to Spinnato's ex-wife, Elizabeth Smith, in court, and said of Spinnato: "I'm not here to excuse his actions. We are deeply sorry for what happened."

After yesterday's sentencing, Hogg said, "Thank God it's over."

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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