Judge increases severity of D’Angelo sex offender designation | Crime | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

LOCKPORT — A New York State Supreme Court justice has given former Niagara Falls attorney, online newspaper editor and political operative Nicholas D’Angelo a new designation to go along with his Level 3 sex offender status.

Justice Debra Givens ruled at a hearing Friday afternoon that “clear and convincing evidence” not only placed D’Angelo as a risk level 3 sex offender, but that his conviction on four counts of first-degree sexual abuse merits designating him as a “violent sexual offender.” Givens made her ruling over the strenuous objections of defense attorney Jessica Kulpit, who argued that an administrative error by prosecutors should have barred them from seeking the special designation for D’Angelo.

D’Angelo was not in the courtroom to hear the judge’s ruling. New York State Court officers advised Givens that D’Angelo had refused to leave his cell at the Niagara County jail to come to court.

Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti confirmed that D’Angelo “is refusing to go to court.” 

Assistant Erie County District Attorney Lynette Reda, who has been acting as a special prosecutor in D’Angelo’s sex crimes case, initially protested D’Angelo’s absence, noting that one of his victims was in court to observe the proceedings. Reda said D’Angelo had been present at every other proceeding in his case and asked Kulpit, “Jessica, did you know he (D’Angelo) wasn’t coming?”

Kulpit tartly replied, “I’m not going to comment on privileged conversations.”

Sheriff’s Office officials said they were prepared to bring D’Angelo to court  against his will if Givens issued what is known as a “drag order,” shorthand for “dragging a prisoner out of their cell.” But the judge said she had the authority, under law, to conduct the hearing without D’Angelo present.

Kulpit told the judge that she would “waive” D’Angelo’s appearance.

D’Angelo, 30, was sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years of sex offender probation in July after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and two counts of third-degree rape in a plea deal with special prosecutors from the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.

He has been jailed since his sentencing and has a tentative release date of Nov. 3. His maximum release date is Jan. 4.

Part of his plea deal required that he give up his license to practice law in New York and “anywhere else (in the United States)” as well as registering as a sex offender. His victims had asked Givens to designate him at the highest possible offender level.

State law requires sex offenders to be registered upon their release from incarceration, with the risk level determining what type of information they must provide to authorities and how much of that information can be released to the public. The risk level 3 designation means an offender is a high risk to reoffend and a threat to public safety.

D’Angelo had a previous sex offense conviction from 2009, when he was a student at Niagara Falls High School. However, he was given youthful offender status in that case and the record of the proceedings were sealed.

He served a term of probation for that conviction.

The sex offender probation given as part of D’Angelo’s plea deal involves greater restrictions than are normally used for probationers. Someone subject to sex offender probation can face limits on their ability to have contact with anyone under the age of 18 including a relative, limits on places they can visit, where they can be employed, use of the internet, as well as electronic monitoring and a requirement for intensive sex offender counseling.

Givens previously told D’Angelo that if he violated the terms of his sex offender probation, she would re-sentence him to up to 44 years in prison.

D’Angelo was charged in November 2020 in a 12-count indictment that accused him of multiple rapes and sex crimes and patronizing an underage prostitute. He pleaded guilty to a superseding 8-count indictment.

Niagara County prosecutors also told Givens that they were ready for trial on a separate case involving D’Angelo. He has pleaded not guilty to an indictment that charges him with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts stemming from an election fraud investigation.

The New York State Police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said had determined “that D’Angelo forged records and used a victim’s identity to make a false campaign contribution.”

Sources with knowledge of the investigation have told the Gazette that the identity theft victim is the husband of the sex crimes case special prosecutor, Reda. The alleged fraud was uncovered by campaign officials working on the 2021 election of Chief City Court Judge Janelle Faso, who said they discovered what appeared to be a mailed election contribution from Sam Reda.

Assistant Niagara County District Attorney Robert Zucco also told Givens that a plea offer was available to D’Angelo. However, Kulpit rejected the plea offer, saying D’Angelo was not willing to take a “felony plea.”

Zucco said his offer was for D’Angelo to plead guilty to a single count of attempted first-degree tampering with public records, an E class felony.

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