Charged were Robert Sitler and Denise Dinnocenti
SANATOGA PA – A Perkiomen PA couple was arraigned Monday (Dec. 10, 2012) on charges related to their alleged involvement in last month’s vehicle-pedestrian accident on East High Street at Sunnyside Avenue, which claimed the life of 16-year-old Pottsgrove High School student Timothy Paciello Jr.
As they faced District Court Judge Edward Kropp Sr., the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office pressed for a score of charges against Robert N. Sitler, 43, and Denise Dinnocenti, 42, stemming from evidence developed by the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department and county detectives during their investigation of Paciello’s Nov. 12 death. Paciello, a popular classmate, was struck and fatally injured as he attempted to cross East High while walking home.
Prosecutors claim Sitler and Dinnocenti, who live together in the 300 block of Countryside Court, Perkiomen, lied about who was driving a truck that hit Paciello that night, and said they convinced Dinnocenti’s children also to lie on their behalf. Dinnocenti initially told police she was the driver; both later admitted Sitler was behind the wheel, prosceutors said.
Sitler is charged with homicide by vehicle, insurance fraud, unsworn falsification to authorities, false reports, corruption of minors, conspiracy, reckless driving, speeding and other related charges. Dinnocenti is charged with insurance fraud, unsworn falsification to authorities, false reports, corruption of minors, conspiracy and other related charges.
District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and township police Chief Michael Foltz, in a prepared statement Monday, said the accident and its investigation unfolded like this:
As Paciello crossed East High, he walked across its westbound lane and paused in the center left-turn-only lane, waiting for eastbound traffic to clear. A truck driven by Sitler was traveling west on East High, allegedly tailgating another vehicle. As both vehicles approached the intersection of Sunnyside Avenue, the lead vehicle signaled for a right turn. Sitler veered into the center lane, accelerated to pass the turning vehicle, and struck Paciello.
The two children reportedly were sitting in the truck’s back seat.
Following the crash, Dinnocenti identified herself to bystanders and responding police officers as the truck’s driver. She also provided a written statement to police that stated she was operating Sitler’s vehicle, because she knew where they were going and Sitler had consumed several beers. Sitler provided a corroborating written statement, police said.
However, their investigation determined Sitler was the driver and Dinnocenti was actually a front-seat passenger. During follow-up interviews with both five days later, the pair allegedly admitted to providing false information about who drove the vehicle that struck Paciello. Eventually both also admitted they told the children to lie and say Dinnocenti, not Sitler, was driving.
The pair said Sitler pulled into a shopping center away from the scene of the crash, and while there conspired with each other to lie, because Sitler had been convicted of vehicle homicide-manslaughter in Alabama during 2004.
On the day after the crash, Sitler and Dinnocenti filed a claim with an insurance company, in which both reported Dinnocenti had operated the vehicle.
The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Lauren McNulty and Erik Crocker, Ferman said.
Photos from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office