SCHENECTADY – A career burglar who gained a level of internet notoriety after getting stuck in a pizza shop vent during a 2011 Rotterdam burglary received a total sentence of 15 years to life in state prison after his latest convictions in Rotterdam business burglaries, Schenectady County District Attorney’s officials said.
Timothy Cipriani, 55, formerly of Schenectady, was convicted earlier this year in separate trials of two burglaries, one at the Maxon’s American Grill in March 2018 and the other at Fu Sing Restaurant in July 2018.
At Cipriani’s sentencing this past week, Judge Matthew Sypniewski found Cipriani a persistent felony offender. The finding, based on Cipriani’s lengthy criminal history, made him eligible for a sentence of up to life in state prison.
Sypniewski then sentenced Cipriani to 15 years to life in prison for both break-ins and ran the sentences at the same time.
In one of the two burglaries for which he was sentenced this past week, a jury found Cipriani broke into Maxon’s American Grill in Rotterdam March 25, 2018.
In that case, prosecutors argued Cipriani broke in just before 1 a.m. through a vent in the kitchen and tried to steal a cash box. As he moved inside, though, he triggered the business’ security alarm. Officers responded, but he had already fled, prosecutors said.
A search of the business, though, uncovered a glove left behind a pizza oven in the kitchen, prosecutors said. The glove contained Cipriani’s DNA. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Chandler Frontero.
Cipriani was then arrested July 12, 2018 after another Rotterdam burglary, that one at the Fu Sing Restaurant. A jury convicted him in that case in April. That case was tried by Assistant District Attorney Michael DeMatteo.
Prior to this year’s convictions, Cipriani had previously been convicted six other times of similar burglaries, including the 2011 break-in at Paesan’s Pizza in Guilderland, the one where he got stuck in a vent trying to get in and required rescuing.
Evidence photos of him dangling from the ducts were disseminated widely in news stories over the internet.
Cipriani’s guilty plea then left open what his final sentence would be. He brokered the deal directly with then-Judge Karen Drago.
Drago found the greater sentence, the equivalent of a second-degree murder conviction, to be too great and called on the state Legislature to give judges more flexibility in sentencing persistent non-violent offenders. The minimum sentence under such a designation is 15 years to life.