Former Warren attorney pleads guilty in theft ring

CHARDON — Former Trumbull County defense attorney Maridee Costanzo — who served eight years in federal prison for plotting to kill her husband — could be heading back to prison for her role in a theft ring in Geauga County.

Costanzo, 59, 155 Genesee Ave. NE, Warren, pleaded guilty Thursday in Geauga County Common Pleas Court to a charge of receiving stolen property. She is expected to be sentened at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, according to court records.

Constanzo’s plea was the culmination of an investigation and raid conducted last spring by the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office. Costanzo had stolen property in her home at the time of the raid.

The Geauga, Portage and Trumbull County Sheriff’s Offices, Warren police, and TAG Law Enforcement Task Force worked together in the investigation of approximately $100,000 in property taken from a Geauga County antique collector and seller. Many of the stolen items already had been recovered before law enforcement officials raided Costanzo’s home.

Costanzo is facing up to 12 months in prison and $2,500 fine. She also may be required to pay restitution.

Geauga County Prosecutor James R. Flaiz described Costanzo as a minor player in a theft ring, but said one of the persons investigators believe was involved in the theft of the antiques was staying in Costanzo’s home.

“She has a drug problem and one of the people involved in the thefts, who was her dealer, was staying in her house,” Flaiz said.

Flaiz said some of the stolen items found were identified as being in her possession and did not belong to her house guest.

“She knew the items were stolen,” he said.

Patrick J. Cameron, 42, a co-defendant, pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft in July, for which he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, according to Geauga County Court records. He was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution for the theft.

Co-defendant Paul LaRose, 5647 U.S Route 6, Apt. B., Rome, was charged with theft and breaking and entering, according to court records.

A fourth person, Mariann Harris, also 5647 U.S. Route 6, was charged with grand theft and breaking and entering. A jury trial is scheduled Dec. 19.

Costanzo, who once ran for Congress, served eight years behind bars after a 2005 federal conviction for plotting to have her ex-husband, attorney Roger Bauer, killed. She admitted responsibility, saying her addiction to drugs and a bipolar disorder contributed to her decision to plot the murder.

The murder plan was discovered by law enforcement officials after William Cindea, a middleman Costanzo gave money and photos of Bauer to, was stopped for a traffic violation. Costanzo also was in the vehicle, in which guns and other weapons were found.

She admitted to paying $1,100 of a $2,000 down payment toward a $5,000 bounty to Cindea to arrange to have Bauer killed. Cindea was a witness against Costanzo. He was sentenced in 2005 to 10 months home confinement and five years in prison.