Prison term not reduced for Rizzuto
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Anthony Rizzuto will continue to serve a 12-year prison sentence for several felonies he committed in 1999 after a judge denied a reduction Thursday.
Two years ago, Rizzuto, 22, was sentenced to 12 years for his part in a 1999 crime spree in Aspen and Snowmass that involved a dozen local young men. Their crimes included armed robberies, burglaries and auto thefts.
Rizzuto had filed a motion for reconsideration of his sentence, but district Judge T. Peter Craven ruled on May 9 that the original punishment was appropriate. Craven also noted that Rizzuto may be entitled to sentence reductions based on good behavior in jail, which is decided by the Department of Corrections.
Rizzuto was convicted for an armed robbery of the Aspen Alps Condominium office in August 1999, in which he and co-defendant Thomas Colver heisted $1,600 after pointing a handgun at the office’s night auditor. In September of that year, Rizzuto was involved in burglarizing a Twining Flats home; in that case, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit theft.
Colorado prisoners convicted of felonies can have their sentence reconsidered by the sentencing judge, under Rule 35B of the state penal code. Former Judge J.E. DeVilbiss, who handled most of the sentences for those involved in the crime spree, retired in December 2002, but recommended that his original sentence be upheld.
Current Judge James Boyd of the 9th Judicial District recused himself from the reconsideration, citing a conflict of interest. He has worked with Rizzuto in the past. A large stack of letters from people who both support and oppose a reduction in Rizzuto’s sentence fill his criminal court file.
Rizzuto’s attorney, Denver-based Joseph Saint-Veltri, wrote, “Three years of incarceration and maturation have made [Rizzuto] a different person who deserves reconsideration.” Saint-Veltri did not return calls for comment.
Other words of support came from Rizzuto’s therapist before his transfer to the Department of Corrections, family members, and some of the other young men convicted in the crime spree. Upholding the sentence “will likely severely scar Anthony unless he sees a chance for redemption and a road toward forgiveness,” wrote Nathan Morse, a co-defendant in the Twining Flats burglary case.
A juror during the Twining Flats trial also wrote of her concerns that Rizzuto’s punishment may outweigh his crime.
Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills, who asked the judge to uphold Rizzuto’s sentencing, said it’s never easy to see a young man sentenced to jail, but ultimately said he agrees with the decision.
“Obviously we concur with the court’s result,” Wills said. “It’s certainly not an easy situation for his family or him, or any people that were involved. But we do believe it’s a fair result.”
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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