Grandson saved from prison in $1M theft

Published: Saturday, June 13, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — An East Haven man who stole up to $1 million in lottery winnings from his grandfather avoided jail time Friday through an agreement in which he will repay $175,000 to the victim.

Raffaele Iuliano Jr., 20, described himself as “young and stupid” when he committed the crime. Iuliano pleaded no contest to the charge of first-degree larceny and received a suspended sentence of five years, with five years of probation and the payment of $175,000 in restitution.

Police arrested Iuliano, along with his father, Raffaele Iuliano Sr., and friend Joseph Bernardo in February 2008 on charges they stole up to $1 million from Giuseppe Diglio, the grandfather and father-in-law of Iuliano Jr. and Iuliano Sr., respectively. Diglio, a North Branford resident, won the lottery in 1986 and kept his winnings in cash in a safe in his home, police said.

It was later revealed in court that it was difficult to verify the total amount of the money, as it was held in cash, and Diglio could definitely account for only $350,000.

At the time of the arrest, police said they had already recovered about $218,000. Under the conditions of Iuliano Jr.’s sentence, he will repay at least $125 a week to his grandfather, and his attorney said Iuliano Jr. would return the entire amount within 10 years.

Bernardo, 25, pleaded no contest to a charge of first-degree larceny in March. He also received a five-year suspended sentence and also paid restitution of $175,000.

Iuliano Sr., 45, in February pleaded guilty to fourth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny and received a nine-month suspended sentence.

The Iulianos’ attorney, Frank Antollino, said Iuliano Jr. will “carry the Judas mark in the family.”

“But for the kindness of his grandfather, my client would be going in that door (to prison) instead of out the other door,” Antollino told Superior Court Judge Richard A. Damiani.

Police said the theft took place Nov. 5 and Thanksgiving Day 2007, both dates when family members were gathered elsewhere. Diglio noticed and reported the missing money Jan. 15, 2008.

Damiani told Iuliano Jr., “I don’t know how you’re going to be able to sit at your family table and look your grandfather in the eye.” He added that the defendant could have faced several years in prison.

“Family is all you have — without it you’re a vagabond,” Damiani said. “Beside being a common thief, you stole from your grandfather.”

Iuliano Jr. said he was “deeply sorry.”

“I brought shame to my family (and) my grandfather,” he said. “This is something I have to live with the rest of my life.”

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