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Verdict to be handed down in California Sandwiches shooting case

Amy_J

TRIBE Member
Russo urges judge to accept $2M plea deal
Attorney-General endorses controversial plea deal
Apr. 12, 2006. 02:17 PM
PETER SMALL AND NICK PRON
COURTS BUREAU


Five men have pleaded guilty to a host of charges in connection to a botched gangland hit that left mother-of-three Louise Russo partially paralyzed.
As part of a proposed sentencing deal, several of the accused agreed to jointly pay $2 million in restitution to the mother of three, who read out a victim impact statement, her voice choking with emotion.

"A single bullet shattered my spine and my reality," Russo, now a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, told a University Ave. courtroom packed with her family and supporters.

Extra court officers and police were called in for security as the five men were led in.

"I am a prisoner in my own body," the innocent bystander said.

Antonio Borrelli, Paris Christoforou, Mark Peretz and Peter Scarcella have been in custody since they were charged last April and they pleaded guilty today to a host of charges including conspiracy to commit murder.

Filippo Cutulle pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

The California Sandwich shop, on Chesswood Dr. and Sheppard Ave., was sprayed with bullets that were meant for organized crime figure Michele Modica, according to an agreed statement of facts read into the record today.

Instead, they hit Russo as she waited at a counter for a sandwich.

Prosecutor Donna Armstrong also submitted a joint crown-defence proposal that Scarcella, Peretz and Christoforou be sentenced to 11 years in prison, while Borelli get 12 years.

A three-year term was proposed for Cuttulle.

Parliament changed the law in 1996 that allowed compensation be paid by perpetrators to victims of bodily harm, she told the court.

"This amount is not going to make up for what Mrs. Russo suffered at the hands of the accused, but it will help."

Justice David Watt will sentence the five men this afternoon.

During her presentation, Russo fought back tears as she told the court how grateful she was that her daughter, who was with her in the west-end Toronto sandwich shop when the shots rang out, wasn’t injured in the shooting.

“I thank God everyday it was my blood on the ground, not hers,” Russo said.

“A single bullet shattered my spine and with it my life. The same bullet tore through my entire family’s heart.”

All five men have been in custody since 2004 and would get credit for time served on a two-for-one basis, meaning one month already spent behind bars would carve two months off any future sentence.

The deal requires the endorsement of Superior Court Justice David Watt, who is expected to make his ruling later Wednesday.

Crown lawyer Armstrong told Watt that the deal takes into account the time saved by avoiding a preliminary hearing and trial, which likely would’ve dragged on for months.

It’s also a good deal because there’s never a guarantee of a guilty verdict, she said. She also pointed out that the bulk of the Crown’s evidence rests on the testimony of a non-indicted co-conspirator, who worked with police to get the suspects arrested.

Plus, the deal includes substantial jail terms that fall in line with what is typically doled out in sentencing, Armstrong said.

The financial restitution element of the sentence is not a way for the men to buy their way out of jail, but rather a way for the perpetrators to pay for the damage done to Russo and pay their debt to society, she added.

Earlier Wednesday, Attorney General Michael Bryant confirmed that he approved a plea bargain in the case, although he would not provide details.

Bryant said he’s “confident” in the plea bargain and “believes it is in the public interest.”

The Opposition Conservatives have blasted the Liberal government for the unique compensation package, warning it will set a horrible precedent.

They say any restitution should come from the $40-million Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

The board’s website says its lump-sum awards to victims of crime can vary up to $25,000.

Emilio Zannuti, whose testimony helped piece together what happened the day Russo was shot, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and mortgage fraud over $400,000 and was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Co...ageid=968332188492&col=968793972154&t=TS_Home


I was in court this morning when Russo made her statement and it resonates so much more when you hear it from the victim's own mouth. I was choked along with much of the courtroom and even the crown got choked while making her submission and having to reference Russo.
 
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Amy_J

TRIBE Member
And the verdict is.....one man 3 years, 3 men 11 years and 1 man 12 years all with 2for1 time served which works out to 17 months, 9 years and 10 years. Russo granted $2M settlement

same source as above, just updated
 
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