Frank Santoro, 59, of 1633 Ohm Avenue, abruptly pled guilty on February 2, to the top count in the indictment in the middle of his trial for the shooting death of Thomas Pennini.
Santoro pled out to one count of Manslaughter in the first degree and one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in order to receive a lighter sentence after he realized he would likely be found guilty.
The Bronx DA’s office urged State Supreme Court Justice David Stadtmauer to impose a 20-year prison sentence for Santoro, before the sentence was announced on Tuesday, April 29.
In recommending the tougher sentence on the manslaughter charge along with the additional recommendation for 15 years imprisonment on the gun charge, Assistant District Attorney Daniel McCarthy told Judge Stadtmauer that Pennini was an innocent man whom three eyewitnesses described as a “peacemaker.”
According to the testimony from the case, Pennini was walking his pit bull in Pelham Bay when he encountered an altercation between three women, one of whom was Santoro’s girlfriend, in front of a doctor’s office at 1803 Mahan Avenue, on July 11, 2002.
The woman called Santoro on her cell phone during the fight. When he arrived on the scene, he confronted Pennini, who McCarthy said was acting as a good Samaritan in trying to settle the dispute, and pistol-whipped him with a .45 caliber handgun before firing the fatal shot.
Prior to his death, Pennini tried to defend himself with a pair of scissors he had on hand.
McCarthy argued that after the shooting, Santoro fled the scene, leaving behind the people he claimed to be defending by attacking Pennini, including his girlfriend.
Santoro, who according to published reports is allegedly a low-level member of the Luchese crime family involved in gambling and loan sharking, fled to a motel in upstate New York in his Chevy Blazer, where he was apprehended.
“Santoro made a series of decisions that lead to the death of a man on a street corner in the Bronx,” McCarthy angrily responded to the sentencing. “[These are] the actions of a killer and a coward.”
Santoro will also serve three and a half years on the gun charge after his six-year sentence is complete.
©2008 Community News Group