By Rick Pfeiffer
LOCKPORT — A Falls man, already accused of trying to gun down his brother-in-law, now faces new charges that he attempted to hire a hitman to kill both his brother-in-law and a witness to the crime.
Timothy Depetris, pleaded not guilty, during an arraignment in Niagara County Court Monday afternoon, to four counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of conspiracy and two counts of criminal solicitation. The charges were contained in a grand jury indictment, unsealed just before the arraignment.
Depetris has been jailed, without bail, since his arraignment, on May 15 on charges of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree criminal use of a firearm, three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, six counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree criminal trespass in connection with the shooting of his brother-in-law and former business partner in the early morning hours of March 26.
Prosecutors claim Depetris has spent his time behind bars plotting to kill his brother-in-law and a man who was with him during the March 26 shooting.
"He has continued to commit crimes while he was in jail," First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann told County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas. "He tried to hire a hit man to take out a witness in his first case."
Depetris, the son of the founder of Electrodyn Choke Corp., is accused of shooting his brother-in-law and former business partner in the doorway of the victim’s new business in the 2300 block of Hyde Park Boulevard. The 56-year-old victim, who had gone to the door for a pizza delivery, was shot in the upper chest, near his shoulder.
At the time, investigators said the shooting was clearly “an attempted murder.”
In addition to looking for a hit man to kill his brother-in-law, Depetris reportedly was also seeking to kill a pizza deliveryman who was with him at the time of the shooting and has since cooperated with police and prosecutors. Investigators have said the pizza deliveryman lured the victim to the doorway.
Prosecutors turned over two CDs to Depetris' defense team after the arraignment. The CDs reportedly contain conversations Depetris had while looking for a hit man at the Niagara County Jail.
Farkas ordered Depetris held in "isolation" at the jail as a result of the new charges.
Prosecutors had previously asked the judge not to set bail in the case because they feared Depetris would try to convert his assets,” estimated in the millions of dollars, and flee.
Depetris’ defense attorney says his client does not have access to "millions of dollars."
“He is currently going through a divorce and his assets are frozen,” Earl Key said. “He has no prior criminal record and these are only allegations.”
Hoffmann had previously told Farkas that Depetris had "stalked" the victim at his home, before shooting him and repeatedly firing at him inside his business.
“All because of a business deal (Depetris) felt went badly," Hoffmann said.
The victim reportedly pointed investigators to Depetris as a suspect almost immediately after the shooting. A day later, police stopped Depetris as he was driving through the city and found what one investigator called an “arsenal” inside his car.
Detectives said Depetris had a loaded semi-automatic 9-mm Baretta handgun in a holster around his neck and under his shirt at the time he was stopped. Police also recovered a fully automatic rifle and multiple, loaded ammunition clips in the back seat of the car.
At the time of his arrest, Depetris was reportedly living, without charge, in a penthouse at Seneca Niagara Casino. Sources have said over the course of the last year, Depetris had “gambled away over a million dollars” at the casino.