Pinellas Democrats challenge GOP on corruption

08/23/07 Mitch E. Perry
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The Pinellas Democratic Party has issued a challenge to county Republican Party chairman Tony DiMatteo.

The Democrats are asking DiMatteo to return $2,240 in contributions the local GOP received from Angelo Cappelli in 2006 and early 2007.

Cappelli ended up losing the race for state House District 52 last year to Bill Heller. He was arrested last week and charged with stealing more than $100,000 from a deceased client's estate while working for SunTrust Bank.

Toni Molinaro, chairwoman for the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee wants the Republican Party to send Capelli’s contributions to the Pinellas County Community Foundation. That’s the organization the deceased client's will stipulated should receive the money.

But Cappelli allegedly committed five fraudulent transfers of more than $100,000 from client Mario Granata’s account.

Cappelli was fired from Sun Trust bank in June. He reportedly repaid the money to Sun Trust before he was arrested last week.

DiMatteo says he doesn’t think his organization needs to return any money.

The story originally broke on the St. Petersburg Times website Wednesday night. In the comments section of the blog, reaction to Toni Molinaro’s demand has split along predictably partisan lines.

Angelo Cappelli’s arrest last week stunned Pinellas County Republicans. The 37-year-old Yale graduate was considered a budding GOP star, even after losing last year’s House race to Bill Heller. Cappelli faces grand theft and perjury charges.

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