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FRANKFORT, KY. 2 Valley men lose burglary appeals



Published: Sat, January 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The men were convicted of committing the largest art theft in Kentucky history.

STAFF/WIRE REPORTS

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Two Mahoning Valley men with long criminal records have had their most recent convictions upheld by a Kentucky court.

James P. Quinn of Youngstown and Samuel R. Fossessca of Canfield were convicted of burglary in what authorities call the largest art theft in Kentucky history.

On Friday, the Kentucky Court of Appeals brushed aside their claims that they were convicted with information that should have been suppressed because it was given by people who got deals for immunity from prosecution.

The crime: The charges sprang from the July 1994 burglary and looting of the Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington. Stolen were 103 pieces of jewelry and artwork worth $1.6 million.

Both men were in jail in Ohio on other charges when they were convicted of the Kentucky theft.

Authorities said the burglary was one of several Quinn and Fossessca committed as part of a gang that went on a crime spree beginning in 1988.

The gang is said to have stolen $10 million in cash and jewelry and was linked to more than 300 burglaries in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and Florida.

After being indicted in Ohio, Quinn and Fossessca negotiated plea agreements and made immunity deals -- Quinn with federal authorities and Fossessca with Ohio authorities. They offered information about other crimes, including the Headley-Whitney heist, according to the appellate opinion.

No cooperation: Quinn refused to cooperate with Kentucky authorities, so they went after accomplices he had named in his immunity agreement. One was James Napolitano of Canfield, who pleaded guilty to theft in Kentucky. As part of his own plea agreement, Napolitano implicated Quinn.

Napolitano also has a criminal record in the Mahoning Valley.

Quinn argued that the information he gave should not be used against him. Writing for the appeals court, Judge John D. Miller said nothing in the agreement precluded its use by Kentucky.

For the same reasons, Fossessca's appeal was without merit, Judge Miller wrote. Judges William McAnulty and Julia Tackett joined in the ruling.

Criminal history: Vindicator records show Fossessca was charged with several crimes as a teen-ager in the 1950s, including burglary, larceny and juvenile delinquency. His later criminal record includes charges of burglary, evading federal income tax and interstate transportation of stolen property.

In 1980, Fossessca was shot in the buttocks as he walked to the porch of his home on Catalina Avenue in Youngstown.

Quinn's background: Quinn's first record of arrest was in 1982, when he was charged with setting off a home-made bomb in Fitch High School in Austintown. He was 17.

Later arrests led authorities to charge to Quinn with conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering and breaking and entering.

Napolitano's sheet: Napolitano's first arrest came in 1982, when he was 19. He was charged with assault in the beating of a 59-year-old woman.

In 1989, he was sentenced to six to 23 months in jail for participating in a plan to extort $1,000 from the couple who had adopted his girlfriend's son.




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