A Duquesne Heights man who claimed past Mafia ties and a rocky relationship with an Allegheny County sheriff's deputy failed Thursday in his bid to get out of federal prison following accusations that he made repeated threats.
Regonaldo "Nico" Demelio, 43, told U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab that when he made statements police interpreted as threats against deputy Lori Dobrosielski, he was off the medications he takes for psychiatric conditions including "intermittent explosive disorder."
He said that if released, he would return to construction work and support his wife, who is recovering from lung cancer surgery and facing foreclosure.
"I changed my life around like you told me I should," Demelio told Judge Schwab at prior hearings in his long-running federal criminal history. "I understand that people don't like me because I committed that crime [of threatening to kill an FBI agent] in 2004. But don't take away all the good things I've done."
Assistant U.S. attorney Shardul Desai brought witnesses who said that there was no surefire way to protect Ms. Dobrosielski if Demelio was released.
Judge Schwab ruled that defense attorney Chris Rand Eyster had not provided enough evidence to make him reverse his earlier decision to detain Demelio for violating federal probation.
Last year, Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen upheld a complaint by Demelio's wife that Ms. Dobrosielski "had inappropriate communication and associations" with the felon. Demelio described himself to the sheriff as a former Mafia member.
Police told Demelio to avoid all contact with the deputy. According to Kennedy police Officer Daniel Saniga, he sent her text messages saying, "Can I ask you a question" and "I guess not."
When Officer Saniga called Demelio, according to an affidavit, the defendant "commented, 'I know what I'm going to do,' and hung up the phone."
Officer Saniga told Judge Schwab that he viewed that as a threat. Mr. Eyster said it could be a threat to sue, and noted that Demelio has filed a lawsuit and a private criminal complaint against the deputy.
Demelio is also accused of making a threat in May, while held in the offices of District Magistrate Mary A. Cercone, to deal with the deputy "in the street." Judge Schwab said he will consider a motion to revoke Demelio's probation Nov. 14.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord. First Published August 1, 2013 11:30 AM