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Lawyers seek probation for Natale


Thursday, October 20, 2016

By Peter H. Milliken


Lawyers for former Warren Auditor Anthony J. Natale are asking a federal judge to sentence him at 1:30 p.m. today to probation with home detention and mental health treatment.

Natale pleaded guilty to the felony charge of conveying false information related to use of a weapon of mass destruction when he appeared in June before U.S. District Court Judge Benita Y. Pearson.

Natale admitted mailing an envelope containing white powder to his former employer, American Business Center, 7677 South Ave., Boardman, on Nov. 10, 2014, after being fired from his job there.

The powder fell out of the envelope onto an employee, causing panic that the powder might be a toxin, such as anthrax.

The incident led to an evacuation; a police, fire and Haz-Mat response; and a two-day closure of the business.

Lab tests found the powder to be harmless.

The maximum penalty Natale could face is five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

Judge Pearson said during the June plea hearing, however, that the guideline sentencing range for someone such as Natale, who has no prior criminal record, would be 21 to 27 months in prison.

“Incarceration will add little deterrent effect and will exacerbate Mr. Natale’s psychological and emotional issues,” wrote Attys. J. Gerald Ingram and Desirae DiPiero in a sentencing memorandum.

The memorandum cited a pre-sentence investigation finding by the probation officer that a prison term might worsen Natale’s mental and emotional disorders.

Natale has “accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed genuine remorse,” and is unlikely to re-offend, the memorandum said.

Natale, 37, of Genessee Avenue Northeast, Warren, has borrowed money from his family to pay $10,000 in restitution at sentencing, the memo said.

During the plea hearing, Justin Seabury Gould, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, said Natale is legally required to reimburse emergency responders for the costs they incurred, which he estimated would total between $1,000 and $5,000.

Upon entering his guilty plea, Natale resigned as Warren auditor; and that city’s Democratic Party Central Committee members selected Vince Flask, 5th Ward councilman, to replace him.