Rizzuto’s father blasts son’s sentence
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Anthony Rizzuto’s father criticized Wednesday a judge’s decision not to give his son a reduced sentence for a crime he committed in 1999.
Peter Rizzuto has kept in touch with Anthony during the almost three years he has spent in the Colorado Department of Corrections in Sterling. In April 2001 Anthony Rizzuto was sentenced to 12 years for his role in a 1999 crime spree, in which a dozen young local men committed armed robberies, burglaries and auto thefts.
The elder Rizzuto disputes many of the statements made by prosecutors and the judge during his son’s two trials. Anthony Rizzuto pleaded not guilty to both the burglary of a Twining Flats home and the armed robbery of the Aspen Alps Condominium office.
Juries found him guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit theft in the Twining Flats burglary and guilty of armed robbery charges in the Aspen Alps case.
Peter Rizzuto disputes that his son was the masked man who pointed a gun – later found to be a BB gun – at the pregnant night auditor at the Aspen Alps office, and that his son was a “ring leader” among the young men that participated in the crimes.
“In 15 minutes, Anthony did something wrong,” Peter Rizzuto said. “They talked Anthony into it, and then committed a crime that they thought wasn’t as bad as it was.”
He pointed to some of the lighter sentences that co-defendants received, when they participated in more of the crimes, as a sign that his son was unfairly sentenced to such a lengthy prison term. He also said some of the young men who testified for the prosecution in Anthony’s trials received sentence reductions.
“Seems to me if you commit a worse crime than someone and you’re willing to tell on someone, you can get out of jail,” he said.
All of the 11 other defendants in the crime spree accepted plea bargains, which led to sentences ranging from one year of probation to a dozen years in prison. Two other participants remain in jail: Moses Greengrass is serving a 12-year sentence, and Stefan Schutter is serving 10 years.
District Attorney Lawson Wills was not available for comment on the sentences, but as prosecutors have pointed out, co-defendants who cooperated and agreed to plea agreements were given appropriate sentences.
In a response to Rizzuto’s request for a sentence reduction, Wills wrote that Rizzuto had a “resistive attitude” throughout the legal process.
The elder Rizzuto said his family didn’t want to speak out against the legal system when their son was going through the judicial process, since it might affect the outcome of the trials. But at this point, Peter Rizzuto said his family has nothing left to lose.
“We kept our mouths shut because we were afraid we would hurt things,” he said. “Now that there’s nothing we can do, people should know what happened.”
Rizzuto said his son is doing as well as he can in the Sterling Correctional Facility, getting A’s in college classes, completing courses in anger management and “victim’s awareness,” and keeping in touch with family.
“He’s working hard to come home,” Rizzuto said. “But his 20s are gone while other kids are eating hamburgers, making love with their girlfriends, going to college and building their careers. Anthony has none of that, and he has no chance to regain his life.”
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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