DiTrapano pleads guilty to federal charge

By Chris Dickerson | Jul 26, 2006


BLUEFIELD -- Charleston attorney Dante DiTrapano pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal drug and weapons charge and was ordered into a drug treatment facility until his sentencing.

DiTrapano pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bluefield to a charge that he was a drug addict in possession of firearms, which is a violation of federal law.

Michael Del Giudice, DiTrapano's attorney, asked that his client be released before sentencing and allowed to live at his Charleston home while attending a supervised outpatient drug rehabilitation program.

Judge David Faber, however, would not release DiTrapano because his offense is considered violent.

So, DiTrapano will spend 28 days in a secure facility where he will undergo additional drug treatment. Del Guidice said DiTrapano could be in such a facility as early as Thursday.

Last month, Faber ordered DiTrapano confined to Southern Regional Jail until Wednesday's hearing, deeming him a danger to himself and his community.

On Wednesday, DiTrapano told Faber that the time he already has spent in jail has helped his frame of mind. DiTrapano's was clean-shaven Wednesday with a fresh haircut. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles around his ankles.

"Frankly, that was a godsend," DiTrapano said. "I was not ready to be released. I realized, while frustrating, it was a respite. My mind is clearer than it's ever been in my life. I will not let this court down."

Del Guidice said DiTrapano initially was in denial about his drug problems, but has accepted he needs help.

Del Giudice said DiTrapano was pleading guilty hoping his admission will help him to continue practicing law. He said DiTrapano's father-in-law has said he will allow DiTrapano to practice in his law office once his legal problems are resolved.

DiTrapano had been a partner in his father's law firm. But after his arrest, his name was taken off the office roster. Rudy DiTrapano has not commented on his son's arrest.

DiTrapano's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 24 in Charleston, but court officials apparently are working to expedite that.

As part of his plea Wednesday, DiTrapano also will forfeit seven guns that agents found during an April raid of his South Hills home, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

In exchange for the plea, authorities dismissed one count that DiTrapano lied on a form he filled out when buying a gun in February by saying he was not a user of an illegal drug, the court papers say.

DiTrapano, 43, was arrested June 15 and appeared in federal magistrate court that day. U.S. Magistrate Mary Stanley denied a motion by Del Guidice to set bond. Again, Faber denied his bond request a week later.

DiTrapano's recent string of troubles began in March when he and his wife Teri were arrested at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Hilton Hotel and charged with possession of crack cocaine. Both of them were released on bond from Pinellas County Jail. The couple, as well as three individuals from the area, also was arrested for possession and a variety of other charges. Those charges still are pending.

Officials said there were 73 pieces of crack cocaine and 21 grams of powder cocaine in the room when the arrests occurred. Dante DiTrapano told officers he and the others were having one last party before he entered a drug rehab facility there.

DiTrapano was arrested again March 26 in Pinellas County, Fla., on a warrant for failing to appear at a motion hearing in connection with the crack cocaine charges. DiTrapano was in the intensive care unit of a Tampa hospital late in March.

In April, federal, state and local agents confiscated guns, ammunition, prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia and other personal items during a six-hour search of the DiTrapano home.

In May, Teri DiTrapano and son Zachary were arrested on misdemeanor charges after State Troopers responded to a call in Charleston's South Hills section.

Also in May, NFL star Randy Moss dropped Dante DiTrapano as his agent.

In early June, DiTrapano was cited with four driving related charges after a State Trooper pulled him over near St. Albans because of an expired state inspection sticker and an expired registration. DiTrapano also couldn't produce proof of insurance or a current operator's license because it already had been suspended. And DiTrapano already had been convicted of driving suspended on Nov. 21, 2005.

In a petition filed last month with the state Supreme Court, the State Bar asked that DiTrapano's license be suspended. The Supreme Court said set a hearing for Sept. 13. The court, however, did not appoint a trustee to serve diTrapano's clients.

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