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Sapienza convicted of all sex abuse charges involving two girls

WARRENSBURG Local pizzeria owner Anthony C. Sapienza was convicted Nov. 14 by a jury of 13 felonies and four misdemeanors related to his sexual abuse of two teenage girls, and Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan Monday praised police and the prosecution team for their work on the case. The jury deliberated less than two hours Friday before emerging with the convictions on all counts Sapienza was charged with, involving his sexual incidents with two girls, one 16 and the other 14 at the time of the crimes. Sapienza, 43, was convicted of felony counts of first-degree Criminal Sexual Act with a Minor under 15 by means of forcible compulsion, second-degree rape, second-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree criminal sexual act. He was also found guilty of four misdemeanor counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Unlawfully Dealing with a Child. Hogan praised the work of state Trooper Ernie Barboza, who caught Sapienza in a dark corner of the I-87 Northway northbound rest area near Exit 18 with a then-16-year-old Warrensburg girl. It was a tremendous effort by Trooper Barboza who observed an older man with a very young girl parked in a rest area, and he went beyond ordinary duty in trying to confirm the girl was of legal age and was safe, she said, noting the girl had appeared to be buttoning up her pants under a jacket when she was caught with Sapienza. Although the teenaged girl and Sapienza both said she was 17 the legal age of consent Barboza pursued the situation, making the girl call her mother, and then her true age was discovered, Hogan said. This 16-year-old was an employee of Sapienzas restaurant, which has operated under several names north of Warrensburg on state Rte. 9. The 14-year-old was the daughter of a Long Island woman Sapienza dated. The prosecution said Sapienza paid the girl a lot of attention and gave her alcohol, and then during 2005, fondled her and eventually had sex with her. The relationship ended when he forced her to perform a sex act against her will, according to trial testimony. Hogan said Monday that police and prosecutors had uncovered a pattern of conduct that showed Sapienza was a predator, and the prosecution would be seeking punishment appropriate to the crimes. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 14, and Sapienza is locked up in Warren County jail in the meantime. Be assured we want the judge to consider giving him the maximum, Hogan said, noting that Sapienza could face up to 25 years on just one of the charges alone, and the sentences on the 13 felony convictions could theoretically run consecutively. Before going to trial, Sapienza had been offered a plea deal of a state prison sentence of 10 to 12 years, but now hes likely facing more time, prosecutors have said. After sentencing, Sapienza is likely to go to trial in another sexual abuse case, in which he is accused of forcibly fondling a convenience store worker on the job. This 19-year-old woman has already testified before a grand jury, which lodged a felony charge against Sapienza with first-degree sexual abuse. The incident was reportedly recorded in part by a store security camera. Hogan said she was pleased with the jurys decision Friday to convict Sapienza on all counts involving the 14- and 16-year old girls. Assistant District Attorney Kevin Donlon deserves all the credit he worked tirelessly in preparing this case for trial and it showed in the courtroom, Hogan said. He was professional, passionate and persuasive.

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