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Ex-prison guard convicted of 27 abuse counts

January 30, 2013 News Extra

PITTSBURGH — A fired Pittsburgh state prison guard accused of physically and sexually assaulting inmates who were gay or serving time for child-sex crimes was convicted today on 27 counts of mistreating them and exposing himself, but was acquitted of dozens of other charges, including all of the sexual assault allegations he faced.

Harry Nicoletti, 61, of Coraopolis is allowed to remain free until he’s sentenced March 27, when Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Jon Pittman told the judge he’ll argue that Nicoletti’s crimes, including 12 counts of official oppression and 8 of simple assault and three of indecent exposure, warrant a prison sentence.

Nicoletti’s defense had argued the allegations were false or, at best, exaggerations fueled by the inmate rumor mill at the century-old prison formerly known as Western Pen, and the larger Department of Corrections system of prisons.

Nicoletti’s attorney, Stephen Colafella, said the verdict showed the jury believed “there was some singling out of certain offenders and there was some mistreatment of those offenders.”

Colafella couldn’t predict what kind of sentence Nicoletti might face, though Pittman told Common Pleas Judge David Cashman he’ll seek at least 18 months on one of three counts that Nicoletti solicited an inmate to harass another.

Nicoletti didn’t comment, but appeared to be relieved.