|Former Prosecutor Gets House Arrest for Corrupting Minors
By Larry King
March 12, 2009
Anthony Cappuccio had an image that inspired trust.
In the Bucks County District Attorney's Office, he was a rising star who aggressively prosecuted corrupt public officials, drunken drivers, and child molesters.
At First United Methodist Church in Perkasie, Cappuccio was seen as a married father of two, a police officer's son entrusted with serving as a youth leader.
Cappuccio, 32, recklessly betrayed that trust.
He provided alcohol and smoked pot with some of the teens at concerts, then let them drive home. He engaged in a lengthy sexual relationship with one of the boys.
He viewed pornographic images of young males on his office computer. He cheated on his pregnant wife, once cutting short a vacation for a rendezvous with the teen boy.
"He was living a lie," defense attorney Louis Busico said yesterday in Bucks County Court, where Cappuccio pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children, corrupting minors, and other offenses.
Those crimes will cost Cappuccio no time in jail, though.
Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. gave Cappuccio three to 23 months in the Bucks County prison, but allowed him to serve it on house arrest. Cappuccio also will be granted work-release while serving the sentence, which will be followed by seven years of probation.
Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo, who prosecuted the case, said the victims' families had hoped for more.
"They anticipated that he'd have an actual sentence of incarceration, rather than what basically amounts to being grounded in his own bedroom for a few months," Costanzo said. The victims' parents declined to speak to reporters.
Cappuccio was a senior deputy district attorney until September, when police in Richland Township found him partially clothed with a 17-year-old boy in his parked car.
The teen and two others told authorities that Cappuccio had gone with them to rock concerts in Philadelphia, Upper Darby, and Reading, where he bought them alcohol or smoked marijuana with them. Costanzo said Cappuccio had allowed them to drive home, after drinking or smoking pot, from as far away as the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Stephanie Matsinger Dockery, Cappuccio's replacement as a youth leader, read a letter to him in court, saying he had left parents and children at the church suspicious of their adult leaders. "If you can't trust the good-looking, churchgoing assistant district attorney, well, then, who can you trust?" she said.
Dockery also read a letter from the teen boy who said he "felt loved," but ultimately confused, by his relationship with Cappuccio. "I was living in a fantasy world that had no future," the boy wrote.
Dockery added: "Anthony and I both know there's more than one." Costanzo refused to comment on her remark after the hearing.
Cappuccio's wife, with whom he has two small children, has filed for divorce, and he works in an undisclosed restaurant.
About 30 family members and friends packed the courtroom in support of Cappuccio. None testified, but at Busico's request, all stood at one point for the judge to see.
Cappuccio tearfully read a statement in which he apologized to his colleagues, to his family, to the church and its youth, to the D.A.'s Office and the courts, and, ultimately, to God.
"No words can express the deep regret and sorrow I feel for betraying so many people," he said.
Busico said Cappuccio had been living in denial of his sexual orientation for many years before acting upon it. "The lesson here," Busico said, "is that you have to be true to yourself."
But Costanzo said that wasn't the issue. Indulging in booze and pot with teens and having sex with them is a crime whether it involves boys or girls, he said.
"This isn't a case about his struggles with his sexual identity," Costanzo said. "It is about an adult put in a position of trust with children."
Contact staff writer Larry King at 215-345-0446 or email@example.com
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