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Costanzo enters pleas of innocent



Published: Tue, June 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The attorney pleaded innocent to the charges.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Atty. Maridee Costanzo returned to Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for the first time since being arrested in April on a federal charge of trying to kill her estranged husband.

She pleaded innocent to several charges.

Wearing an orange and white horizontal prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, Costanzo was brought to the courtroom of Judge Peter Kontos to face two counts of carrying concealed weapons, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, two counts of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice.

These charges stem from a March traffic stop, when Costanzo was a passenger in a car driven by William Cindea. Police found a loaded gun tucked in the front of Costanzo's pants, reports state.

A pretrial has been scheduled for 11 a.m. July 18.

Costanzo said little during the brief hearing, accompanied by her attorney Tom Zena.

When deputies brought Costanzo to the courthouse from the jail, she smiled and told reporters she was doing "OK." However, moments later, when she was being brought out of the elevator to go to the courtroom, she was sobbing.

"It's very difficult for her coming back here in a prison outfit," Zena said. "This is harder than federal court because there are people here she dealt with as an attorney. This is her hometown. She practiced law here. It's hard."

Costanzo is being held in the Ashtabula County jail on the federal charge.

Murder plot

Last week, an information was filed in U.S. District Court stating that from November 2004 to April 19, 2005, Costanzo caused Cindea to use a facility of interstate commerce so that the murder of her estranged husband, Roger Bauer, would be committed.

The information also states that Costanzo paid $1,100 as a partial payment for the murder. Prior court documents filed stated that Costanzo had asked Cindea to hire someone to kill Bauer and that she provided Cindea with a picture of her estranged husband.

Zena, who along with Atty. David Doughten represents Costanzo, said an information is filed when both sides have agreed to a resolution in the case.

A hearing is set for June 21 in Akron federal court.

The Ohio Supreme Court suspended her law license last month pending the outcome of a state probe of alleged unspecified violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers and judges.

The high court ordered Costanzo to stop practicing law.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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