Driver in police chase must be resentenced

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A man convicted for leading police on a 16-mile chase in September 2009 must be resentenced.

Nino Petrocelli, 51, of Cecil, was convicted in 2011 on numerous misdemeanor charges after racing a box truck on Route 65 and Route 28 through the West End and into Millvale, damaging several parked cars during the chase.

Mr. Petrocelli argued before the state Superior Court that the 36- to 66-month sentence imposed by Common Pleas Judge Randal B. Todd in April 2012 was done vindictively after the defendant filed a motion to modify his original sentence because an incorrect prior record score was used to calculate his guidelines.

The original sentence imposed was 33 to 60 months.

According to the opinion, Judge Todd had previously noted he had "no sympathy" for Mr. Petrocelli and that he had been 'nothing but a pain since he has come into the courtroom.'"

The appellate court noted that following a motion for modification, under the law, the new sentence may not exceed the old without justification. If it does exceed the previous sentence, there is a presumption of vindictiveness, wrote Superior Court Judge Jack Panella.

According to the Superior Court, the only explanation provided by Judge Todd in increasing the penalty was given in a later written opinion where he said it was "the result of an overall plan designed to appropriately sentence defendant."

Although the appellate court said it found no evidence that the increase was vindictive, the defendant still must be resentenced.

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