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Classic car con man loses bid to have conviction overturned

Classic car con man loses bid to have conviction overturned

A man convicted in a scheme to defraud classic car owners lost his bid to have the conviction ove...
Classic car con man loses bid to have conviction overturned
Ferdinando Perillo is taken to the Schenectady County Jail in August 2015 after being sentenced on fraud convictions.
Photographer: Steven Cook

A man convicted in a scheme to defraud classic car owners lost his bid to have the conviction overturned this week.

A judge in Schenectady sentenced Ferdinando “Fred” Perillo, 66, to a total of 5 1/2 to 11 years in state prison last year, calling him a “career con man” who was unrepentant for his crimes.

The judge found Perillo guilty of larceny in connection with the fraudulent sale of a 1976 Chevrolet Nova and of taking thousands of dollars from another victim for auto parts that were never delivered.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court ruled this week that the conviction stands, rejecting arguments over evidence and ineffective counsel. The appeals court, however, ordered a hearing on how much restitution Perillo should pay.

Matthew Hug, Perillo’s attorney, earlier won Perillo’s release pending the outcome of the appeal. Hug said Friday that he plans a bid to get the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to review the case.

Judge Frank P. Milano convicted Perillo last year in a non-jury trial on charges that included first-degree scheme to defraud. The convictions came after three days of testimony in Schenectady County Court.

Milano acquitted Perillo of larceny charges related to the sale of two other vehicles — a 1956 Chevrolet and a 1957 Chevrolet.

Perillo has been free pending appeal since days after his sentencing. Hug said he hopes the Court of Appeals will allow Perillo to remain free until the court decides whether to take the case.

Hug said his client continues to be a no-flight risk. He cited continuing health issues that require Perillo to use a wheelchair.

Perillo appeared in court in a wheelchair and with an oxygen tank for his sentencing. His attorney at trial, Stephen Rockmacher, said previously that Perillo is suffering from the effects of a brain injury he suffered nearly two years ago.

In this week’s ruling, the Appellate Division found the convictions to be proper, the assistance of Perillo’s trial attorney to be adequate and his sentence not excessive.

At sentencing, Milano ordered Perillo to pay $38,000 in restitution and denied a defense request for a restitution hearing. But the appeals court this week found such a hearing should have been held and ordered it to take place.

Prosecutor Michael DeMatteo said Friday he expects issues related to the restitution hearing and Perillo’s freedom to be addressed in the coming weeks.

The case against Perillo dates back to 2011 and relates to his business at 1905 State St., according to the indictment.

He was accused of renting storage space for cars and then selling them without their owners’ permission. All three cars were recovered and were expected to be returned to their rightful owners at the conclusion of the trial, prosecutor Michael DeMatteo has said.

Perillo was accused of transferring titles using loopholes related to older cars, DeMatteo said previously. In at least one case, he was accused of using another car’s vehicle identification number to transfer a title.

The overall allegations at trial related to at least six victims, including those who had cars sold out from under them and those who purchased the cars believing the transactions to be legitimate, DeMatteo has said.

At sentencing, Milano noted Perillo accepted no responsibility for his crimes and expressed no remorse or willingness to repay his victims. He also noted Perillo’s testimony at trial could not be believed, calling it “so fanciful as to beggar belief.”

The judge also indicated Perillo’s sentence took into account a prior conviction for similar crimes. In a case from 2009, Perillo pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud charge related to parts that he was paid for, but that were never installed on cars. He paid $24,000 in restitution in that case.

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, scook@dailygazette.net or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.

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