Friday, February 17, 2012

Death Comes Home.
Riverside Cemetery | Waterbury CT
National Historic Registry

Cemetery theft brings 8 years 
Southington man stole bronze statues from Riverside 

WATERBURY — A 26-year-old Southington man was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for his role in the theft of unique bronze statues from gravesites in Riverside Cemetery.

Jonathan Leveille, of 11 E. Summer St., appeared in Waterbury Superior Court to accept the sentence as part of a plea deal that will also call for him to serve three years of probation after he's released from prison.

Leveille was at the center of a shocking theft discovered in December by a group of veterans who went to the cemetery to lay wreaths at a memorial.

They found that two bronze sculptures — a life-size figure of a woman and a hooded figure of Death — had been pried from their mounts.

Police launched an investigation into the thefts, tracking the pieces of art to Liberty Recycling in Bristol. The Death statue, which dated back to the mid-1880s, was recovered intact, but the life-size statue of the woman had been hacked into pieces using what appeared to be a reciprocating saw.

Police tracked down the thieves after they obtained the name of the seller from the Bristol scrap yard. Although the valuable statues were worth far more, they had been sold for a mere $1,500.

After his arrest, Leveille told police that he and his accomplice, Donald Petruzzi, 22, pried the statues away from their bases using a metal bar and loaded them into an old Chevrolet Beretta.

Leveille was charged with a list of crimes, but pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny and illegal possession of a gravestone, which are both felonies.

State's Attorney Maureen Platt said the representatives of the cemetery felt the theft was serious, but didn't want to be heard in connection with the pre-arranged deal.

When asked if he had anything to say before the sentence was imposed by Judge Richard Damiani, Leveille, wearing a faded orange jumpsuit, declined to comment. He kept his head down, said little else and was escorted into nearby cell blocks after the brief hearing.

Leveille's criminal record includes convictions for third-degree larceny, failing to appear in court and use of drug paraphernalia.

Leveille's sentence is the same amount of prison time assigned to another shocking theft that occurred at the cemetery in 2007. Joseph Vecchiarelli's drug addiction led him to steal gold dentures from the mouths of skulls as he ransacked three mausoleums, according to Republican-American archives.

Vecchiarelli ripped into six coffins during the theft, including one that contained an infant.

Petruzzi is still awaiting trial.

1 comment:

fatz said...

Aww, bummer the original was destroyed. A-holes.