Four men were unexpectedly convicted Tuesday in connection to allegations they stole business from Fiberdyne Labs in Frankfort to benefit another company.
Three former employees of the fiber optic company — Daniel and Michael Caiola and Matthew Paoni — and another business owner, Ronald Scalise, were in the midst of picking a jury for trial in Herkimer County Court when a last-minute decision was made to resolve the case otherwise.
Instead of a jury trial, Paoni and Daniel Caiola agreed to have their case decided by Judge John Brennan after stipulating to a series of facts.
• After the special prosecutor, Donald Gerace, placed a series of facts on the record, Brennan found Paoni and Daniel Caiola guilty of a lesser misdemeanor charge of scheme to defraud.
They each were sentenced to pay a $2,000 fine plus surcharges and placed on a one-year conditional discharge.
The two other defendants then pleaded guilty to other charges:
• Scalise pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree criminal impersonation, a misdemeanor, by presenting himself as a representative of a fictitious corporation, Trans World Fiber Optics. In that instance, Scalise was doing business under an assumed business name when he signed a contract with one of Fiberdyne’s customers.
Scalise was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine plus surcharges and placed on a one-year conditional discharge.
• Michael Caiola pleaded guilty to two violations of criminal trespassing and placed on a one-year conditional discharge, as well as ordered to pay $405 in restitution to the state Department of Labor for unlawfully receiving unemployment benefits.
Although the defendants were initially accused of conspiring to deprive $650,000 in business from Fiberdyne to benefit Trans World, special prosecutor Gerace said none of the defendants were required to admit stealing any money.
Among the stipulated facts: Paoni and Daniel Caiola diverted confidential information they received from customers of Fiberdyne to Scalise so Trans World could perform the work, Gerace said. The Trans World work was then performed by Fiberdyne technicians, while the customers were told Fiberdyne was getting out of the fiber optics business.
Daniel Caiola would also submit price quotes and communicate with customers on behalf of Trans World while he was actually working on the clock for Fiberdyne, Gerace said.
If all four men had gone to trial and been convicted of felony charges, Gerace said he would have asked that they serve a period of incarceration. But because Herkimer County was spared what would have been a lengthy and costly trial, Gerace said their punishments were left up to the judge to decide.
“I believe given the complexity of the case, given the cost of the prosecution and given the defendants’ lack of prior criminal background, this disposition was in the interest of justice with respect to the charges,” Gerace said. “I believe Matt Paoni and Daniel Caiola knew they were doing something wrong, but I think that they believed it may not have been of criminal nature, when it actually was.”