Tonawanda News

May 6, 2013

NT man charged with witness intimidation

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News —

A North Tonawanda man was in city court on Monday for the second time in as many weeks, this time for allegedly beating and robbing a witness set to testify against him.  

Gino A. Fascitelli, 42, 59 Allen St., was arrested on April 24 along with 12 others who local and federal authorities say were involved in a drug trafficking ring between Ohio and Western New York. 

But police said less than a week after the initial arrest, on April 30, he stalked the witness, a North Tonawanda resident, punching and kicking her, and stealing her wallet from her purse before taking off into the early morning darkness. The victim was left with brush burns and bruises, and also had her bicycle stolen. 

During a felony hearing on Monday, the witness said Fascitelli surprised her at 4:50 a.m. as she was locking the door to her Payne Avenue apartment and preparing to head to work.

"I heard his voice calling my name," she testified. "He was right on top of me."  

The witness said as she was punched in the head "with a fist" and kicked in her side, Fascitelli also attempted to wrench her purse from her right arm. She said he succeeded, escaping with her identification, Social Security and debit cards. 

The witnesses said she proceeded to work, where she told her employer of the incident as well as her boyfriend, mother and neighbor. But it wasn't until the morning of May 1 that she contacted police. 

"I was scared," she said. "He told me 'I dare you to call the police.'" 

Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Teresa Prezioso said in addition to his April 25 arrest in which he was charged with multiple counts of sale and possession of cocaine and prescription narcotics, Fascitelli was also convicted in 2005 of first-degree criminal contempt, an E-felony, while his criminal history could lead to an eventual plea deal. 

"We haven't offered any plea deal in this case yet," she said. 

Police said Fascitelli was apparently released from Niagara County Jail on his initial drug charges the day before violent incident occurred. The April 30 incident led to a volley of charges including third-degree robbery, fourth-degree grand larceny, third-degree intimidating a witness, petit larceny and second-degree harassment. 

Assistant Public Defender James Rizzo called the witnessed character into question, before questioning her as on the stand. 

"She's been in trouble before," he said, without elaborating. 

Fascitelli is being held on $100,00 bail. He will next appear in Niagara County Court before a grand jury, though an appearance has yet to be scheduled. 

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.