Battling neighbors return to court

President of Little Italy group, two women trade accusations in 8-year fight

September 10, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

The latest skirmish in an eight-year battle between two factions in Little Italy began playing out in a Baltimore courtroom yesterday, as the president of the neighborhood's community organization sued his nemeses for $500,000.

Plaintiff Roberto Marsili, president of the Little Italy Community Organization, accused community residents Rosa Aquia and her daughter Gia Blatterman of making false accusations against him, court documents show. He also contends that they have "abused" the civil justice process by bringing a harassment suit and other legal action against him.

Aquia and Blatterman argue that Marsili's suit is a "malicious prosecution action."

In opening statements, Marsili's lawyer, Domenic R. Iamele, said the mother and daughter sued Marsili in the past to "shut him up," adding that the jury should be "outraged" at the women's behavior.

Gerald C. Ruter, who is representing Aquia and Blatterman, said Marsili, 72, "acts like a bully on the streets of Baltimore."

"He is a violent man who bullies people, acts aggressively toward people and has personal animosity toward both defendants," Ruter said.

Aquia, 78, and Blatterman, 55, have sued or accused Marsili of crimes on several occasions, including once in 1997, when Marsili pleaded guilty to assaulting Blatterman with his car. He received a sentence of six months' probation.

Blatterman pressed charges against Marsili after accusing him of being a "peeping Tom," in 1999. The charge was later dropped by the state's attorney's office.

In 1998, Aquia charged Marsili with assault and harassment, and in 2000 she sued him for defamation. The jury sided with Marsili.

The suit contended that Marsili defamed Aquia in his neighborhood newsletter, The Guardian, by criticizing a $250,000 loan Aquia received from the city for renovating two houses.

Marsili's lawyer said yesterday that they had wanted to stop him from putting out The Guardian.

"My client has had to face a myriad of criminal cases," Iamele said. "We are asking for damages for the anxiety, fear and humiliation that he felt being a defendant, when he never should have."

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