Confusion leads to continuance

July 2, 2013

WAYNESBURG – A sentencing hearing was continued Tuesday for a Washington man who pleaded guilty in May to charges of fleeing or attempting to elude police, driving under the influence of alcohol and recklessly endangering another person.

Rocco John Iacovone, 27, was arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase in February. Iacovone drove north on Interstate 79 from West Virginia into Pennsylvania, where he was eventually forced to a stop by state police near Ruff Creek. He is also a suspect in the February armed robberies of a Subway restaurant in Fairmont, W.Va., and a BP station in South Strabane Township, Washington County.

The sentencing hearing for the February chase began later than scheduled Tuesday afternoon in the courtroom of Greene County Judge Farley Toothman, due to confusion as to where Iacovone was being housed. Deputies went to the Greene County jail to retrieve him only to learn he was being held in the Washington County jail. Iacovone was moved to Washington County following his escape from the Greene County facility on June 22, along with murder suspect Jason Roe. The pair was apprehended two hours after they scaled an upended picnic table to breach the security fence before fleeing from the jail.

Public Defender Harry Cancelmi and Greene County District Attorney Marjorie Fox argued extensively Tuesday regarding a prior record score for Iacovone. Fox argued that the presentence investigation was filed on June 6, giving defense council ample time to peruse it and present arguments to the validity of its contents.

Another series of arguments between Fox and Cancelmi arose from the presentence investigation report itself, as prepared by Greene County Adult Probation Officer James Gregan. The report contained multiple arrests of Iacovone in Arizona and one in New Jersey.

Fox said the record reflected Iacovone had at least a prior record score of five. In Pennsylvania, a prior record score places a numeric value to an individual’s criminal history. This number is then used along with the offense gravity score, a numeric value based on the seriousness of the crime, to determine the standard range sentence for a criminal defendant.

Cancelmi argued Iacovone’s prior record score was less than five. He questioned Gregan as to whether he had personally spoken with court officers or anyone else in New Jersey regarding Iacovone’s criminal trespass conviction from 2004. Gregan said he had not. Gregan said that he had acquired documents for arrests in Arizona ranging from driving under the influence to a disputed aggravated assault with a deadly weapon conviction. There was much debate between Cancelmi and Fox as to whether the deadly weapon aspect of the charge was accurate.

Fox said she looks at a defendant’s prior record and adds until she gets to the maximum prior record score of five. She told the court that Iacovone has an 11-page rap sheet. She indicated that she could continue to retrieve information from it, if necessary, get to five if a conviction in the presentence report is deemed to be a lesser number.

Fox asked the court to consider ways that the court’s time would not be taken up by arguments over presentence investigations at the sentencing hearing. It was suggested that it would be more prudent if defense council addressed any questions regarding the report in advance.

Toothman said he was going to continue the hearing until Gregan was more prepared. Cancelmi argued that Gregan, not Fox, should be seeking more documentation for the convictions in the presentence investigation. He also argued that Fox should not be allowed to bring any other convictions against Iacovone in at this time as they weren’t part of the initial report. Toothman did not rule either way.

The sentencing hearing will resume at a time to be set by the court.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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