Tonawanda News

June 12, 2013

Jailed man charged with trying to hire hit man

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A Town of Niagara man already jailed on charges that he shot his brother-in-law over a business deal gone sour has been charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill the victim and a witness in the case, authorities said.

According to reports, Timothy DePetris, 44, was arraigned Monday in Niagara County Court on the new charges, including attempted murder and conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty.

DePetris was already jailed on attempted murder and weapons possession charges stemming from the wounding of his brother-in-law on March 26.

Prosecutors said that while in the county jail, DePetris tried to recruit someone to kill 56-year-old Sandro Viola and a pizza deliveryman who was with Viola at the time of the shooting. The deliveryman lured Viola to the door of Viola’s Niagara Falls business, prosecutors said. Viola was shot in the upper chest but survived.

The deliveryman is cooperating with prosecutors, officials said.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann said the efforts to hire a hit man occurred between April 3 and May 22.

DePetris owned a manufacturing company and had a business disagreement with Viola, authorities said. When DePetris was arrested after the shooting, he was armed with a handgun and had an automatic rifle with 200 bullets inside his car, police said.

At the time of his arrest, DePetris was living in a penthouse at the Seneca Niagara Casino, where his attorney, E. Earl Key, said DePetris had lost more than $1 million gambling.

DePetris remained jailed Tuesday without bail. Key did not immediately return a call seeking comment.