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January 27, 2006

Ronald A. Bongivengo going to jail Monday

Ronald A. Bongivengo Sr. is going to jail Monday.

Bongivengo, 61, of 413 E. Northview Ave., was convicted in May 2003 of stealing money from a veterans organization. Appeals in his case have now been exhausted.

President Judge Dominick Motto on Thursday denied a motion filed by Bongivengo’s lawyer, Dennis A. Elisco, to reduce his original sentence of two months in jail and four months of house arrest to his serving all six months as house arrest.

Bongivengo, a retired police officer whose son, John, took office as Lawrence County District Attorney this month, was convicted by Motto in May 2003 for having stolen $46,324.10 from the American Legion’s Perry S. Gaston Post 343 in New Castle, between August 1998 and February 1999.

He was the post's financial officer during those years. Authorities said he wrote checks to himself totaling that amount.

“I think it’s time for Mr. Bongivengo to serve his time in jail,” Motto said in a hearing Thursday.

Bongivengo has sought appeals in higher courts, and the state Supreme Court denied his motion for appeal Nov. 30.

Motto on Thursday ordered Bongivengo to serve his original sentence of two months in jail, two months on house arrest, and 6 1/2 years probation. Bongivengo also must pay restitution of the $46,324.10 and $8,584.83 in prosecution costs and costs for accounting work and legal fees of the post.

The payments are to go to the post's bonding company, which had previously reimbursed the American Legion for the loss.

Charges against Bongivengo were filed by the state Office of the Attorney General. He has remained free on his own recognizance during the court process.

Bongivengo did not appear in court Thursday.

Elisco asked Motto “to consider the reality of the situation” and allow Bongivengo to serve all six months on house arrest.

He pointed out that Bongivengo and his sons have a background in law enforcement. His other son, Ronald A. Bongivengo Jr., is police chief in Midland. He expressed concern for Bongivengo’s safety if he should go to jail.

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