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January 6, 2012

Brothers sentenced to 60 days in jail for beating business rival

By Brad D. Bates
C & G Staff Writer

Once facing life in prison, brothers Giuseppe and Girolamo D’Anna were sentenced to 60 days in Macomb County Jail Jan. 6.

Stemming from an incident in which Giuseppe D’Anna beat a business rival with a baseball bat April 28, 2011, while Girolamo D’Anna watched, the pair had pleaded no contest to reduced assault with a dangerous weapon charges Oct. 27 in Macomb County Circuit Court.

“(Giuseppe D’Anna) is being responsible,” defense attorney James Thomas said at the Jan. 6 sentencing before Judge Richard Caretti at Macomb County Circuit Court. “He acknowledges he acted wrong.”

Thomas and Girolamo D’Anna’s defense attorney, Vincenzo Manzella, contended that the no contest plea to assault with a dangerous weapon was an admission of wrongdoing but urged the judge not to disregard their clients’ previous clean records.

“It’s mortifying,” Girolamo D’Anna said. “We wish we never been here.”

The defense attested to the brothers’ history as members of the community and loving fathers, and said the beating was, in Thomas’ words, “an isolated event borne out of the economy.”

“(Girolamo D’Anna) filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy,” Manzella said. “This event is where he bottomed out.”

The assault took place after the brothers approached the victim, Pietro Ventimiglia, over the expansion of his restaurant, Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, located just south of the D’Anna’s restaurant, Tiramisu Su Ristorante on Schoenherr Road.

“(Pietro Ventimiglia) always wants to do more and adding 50 seats next door was going to do that for (Nonna’s Italian Kitchen),” the victim’s wife, Maria Ventimiglia, said while she spoke for her husband at the sentencing. “The D’Anna brothers approached him, and he was in for a brutal awakening.”

The victim’s family presented the judge with photos of the injuries that followed his being struck 11 times with an aluminum baseball bat after what the defendants claimed was a “discussion” gone awry.

“My intent was never to hurt anybody,” Girolamo D’Anna said. “There was no intent to hurt him. It started out as a regular discussion between people then it got out of hand.”

Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo did not share that view of the assault.

“When you go to the discussion with a bat, it’s real clear that it’s going to get out of hand,” Cataldo said.

Manzella asked for the court to allow his client to serve his sentence on weekends since he was, in the defense’s eyes, “the less culpable of the two defendants.”

“(Girolamo D’Anna) did offer some aid to Mr. Ventimiglia,” said Manzella, whose request for weekend service was denied. “He got a towel and some ice for Mr. Ventimiglia.”

The original charges against the brothers were assault with intent to murder, a life felony, 20-year felony extortion charges and 10-year felony witness intimidation charges.

“My husband is strong and he prayed for the strength to drive himself to a hospital, so I could have my husband, best friend and my children’s father,” Maria Ventimiglia said.

“I’ll never forget when I looked into his eyes, and he whispered to me his promise to me that he would never leave me a single mother.”

Maria Ventimiglia said her husband currently suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and has withdrawn from everyday life because of the assault.

“He missed his father’s funeral in Italy because he was scared to leave us,” Maria Ventimiglia said. “Our lives will never be the same.”

Thomas disputed the severity of Pietro Ventimiglia’s injuries at the sentencing and cited a “mild concussion” as the only injury that appeared in medical records.

“I cannot deny the emotions the victim’s wife experienced,” Thomas said. “We know from a very early stage the victim retained an attorney. We wanted to go forward, but, with the potential for civil liability, matters got carried away.

“A crime was committed, and we acknowledge that,” Thomas added. “The medical records show he left the hospital after two hours. (The hospital) completed CAT scans, and they were all negative. He was discharged with no medication.”

In his sentencing, Caretti said he weighted the testimony he received from the victim’s family, as well as the family of the defendants.

“This brutal crime appears out of character, but it is still (appalling),” Caretti said as he gave the 60-day sentences jointly along with three years of probation and 90-day periods on electronic tethers.

He also ordered the defendants to pay restitution, which was to be decided at a later date, as well as court costs, and he barred the defendants from having any contact with the victim or his family.
 

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brad D. Bates at bbates@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.