Bail set in notorious Hernando child abuse case
BROOKSVILLE — Anton Angelo shuffled into the court room Thursday morning in an orange jumpsuit, his head down, wrists cuffed and his complexion pasty after more than two months in jail.
Ten minutes later, the key figure in a recent high-profile child abuse case learned he could see the sun as a free man — if he can come up with $2,000, 10 percent of the $20,000 bail.
Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. granted Angelo's request for bond despite objections from the State Attorney's Office that the local music store owner poses a flight risk.
"He has every motivation to flee this jurisdiction and none to stay," prosecutor Brian Trehy told Merritt.
Angelo, 47, was arrested Oct. 25 and charged with perjury and violation of probation in connection with testimony he gave during the child abuse trial of Tai-Ling Gigliotti. At that time, the pair were engaged. The status of their relationship now is unclear. He's been in Hernando County Jail ever since.
As of late Thursday afternoon, Angelo had not posted the bond, jail records show.
Last May, Angelo testified that he took photos used as evidence in the trial of Gigliotti, who was accused of beating her teenage nephew and periodically locking him in a bathroom at the couple's Spring Hill home.
The defense argued that Gigliotti acted in self-defense to protect herself from an unruly boy, and the photos of bruises were submitted to document the injuries he inflicted on her.
Angelo lied when testifying that he snapped all of the photos two days after the boy escaped in February 2009, prompting Gigliotti's arrest, prosecutors say. The bruises in the various photos appear to be in various stages of healing, and a medical expert will testify to that, Trehy said.
Gigliotti was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Before Gigliotti's trial, Angelo reached a plea deal instead of facing trial himself on a charge of aggravated child abuse. He was given five years of probation.
Jimmy Brown, Angelo's attorney, has filed a motion to dismiss the perjury charge. A hearing on that motion is set for Feb. 7. If that move fails, a non-jury perjury trial is set for Feb. 22.
To get a perjury conviction, Trehy will have to show that the photos were material to the case and that Angelo intentionally misrepresented the facts. The photos were material, Trehy said, because they were used to corroborate Gigliotti's testimony that she suffered injury at the hands of the boy she adopted. He is now living with other relatives.
Angelo does not pose a threat to the boy or the community at large and will not flee, Brown told Merritt on Thursday.
Angelo has no prior criminal history and needs to get back to his Spring Hill music store, Brown said. His assistant has been running the place since his arrest, but she's pregnant and due to deliver on Feb. 6.
Angelo was released on bail before, on the child abuse charge, and could have received as many as 60 years in prison on that charge, Brown said. "Facing that kind of exposure, he did not flee," he said.
Born in then-Soviet Russia, Angelo still has connections in Europe, Trehy said. He faces a maximum 30 years in prison for violating probation and a maximum five years if convicted of perjury, a powerful motivator to bolt from the country, Trehy said.
Before ruling, Merritt peppered Angelo with questions.
How much does your business net? About $5,000 month, Angelo replied in quiet, accented English.
Any assets? Just a car.
Savings? About $15,000.
Merritt stretched his arms over his head and looked at the ceiling as he considered the arguments.
Then he set the bond at $20,000. If he can come up with the required 10 percent, he has to put up collateral for the rest.
If released, Angelo will have to surrender his passport and wear a monitoring device.
"Good luck," Merritt said.