Local GOP politico arrested, accused of theft

08/15/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Angelo Cappelli, a rising star in local GOP politics, is in a Pinellas County jail today.

Cappelli ran against Democrat Bill Heller last year for the House District 52 seat.

He was arrested and charged with first degree grand theft and perjury today, according to St. Petersburg Police.

Police spokesman Bill Profitt said if convicted, Cappelli could serve up to 5 years in prison.

Cappelli was fired by Sun Trust back in June, who said at the time they were investigating him though they did not reveal any details.

Investigators said Cappelli stole from the trust account of Mario Granata, a St. Petersburg resident who died in February.

Police said Granata’s 1998 will left all of his assets to a local charity. Investigators say Cappelli delivered part of the money to the charity, but kept the rest for personal use to pay his credit cards and homeowner's insurance premium.

Daryl Paulson is a professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. He said the Cappelli’s arrest is a stunning fall from grace from the man that some said could be St. Petersburg’s next Mayor.

Cappelli ran aggressive campaigns in both his primary and general election races last year. His attacks against Bill Heller were particularly noteworthy, prompting the St. Petersburg Times to weigh in against his attacks in the waning days of that campaign.

Paulson said the reason the Cappelli–Heller race was so nasty is because the seat previously held by Frank Farkas was one that both parties desperately wanted.

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