BANGOR, Maine — A 69-year-old LaGrange man pleaded not guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to stealing from his late father’s U.S. Civil Service Retirement payments.
Robert J. Venti was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury in Bangor on nine counts of theft of public money in 2005, according to court documents.
The retirement payments apparently continued to be deposited into an account at the Rockland Federal Credit Union in Rockland, Mass., after the father’s death. Venti wrote nine checks from the account totaling more than $1,100 between Jan. 21 and Nov. 3, 2005, according to the indictment dated Dec. 9.
One of the checks was written for $200 to Mary Delgizzi, according to the indictment. Delgizzi was convicted in June 2005 of animal cruelty in Lincoln District Court. She was sentenced to six months in jail, but the entire sentence was suspended and she was placed on administrative release, a form of probation.
Forty-nine cats were seized from Delgizzi’s mobile home on Feb. 8, 2005. State animal welfare officials described her home as “a giant litter box,” with layers of feces and cat urine covering the floor. As part of her plea agreement, Delgizzi agreed no longer to own or possess animals.
Originally, Venti, who was living in the trailer with Delgizzi, also was charged with animal cruelty, according to a report previously published in the Bangor Daily News. The charge was dismissed when it was determined Delgizzi, and not Venti, owned the felines.
Documents filed in federal court did not explain why Venti allegedly wrote the check to Delgizzi. Other checks he allegedly wrote on his deceased father’s account included one made out to the Maine District Court for $125, which most likely was a fine payment. Specifics about why Venti might have had to pay a court fine could not be determined Friday.
Venti was released on personal recognizance bail after his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk.
His trial was tentatively set for March 2 in federal court in Bangor.
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He also could be ordered to pay restitution.