By Kirstin Downey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 13, 2008
In a courtroom crowded with his friends from law enforcement, a former FBI official was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison for torturing his girlfriend at knifepoint and gunpoint during a six-hour ordeal in her Crystal City high-rise apartment.
Carl L. Spicocchi, 55, a 19-year FBI veteran who had run the Toledo office and was on temporary assignment in Washington, pleaded guilty in Arlington County Circuit Court last year to two felony counts of abduction and using a firearm in the Aug. 23 attack.
"This obviously was a horrific crime," Circuit Court Judge James F. Almand said. "It requires a substantial sentence and a substantial amount of time."
Almand sentenced Spicocchi to 10 years in prison, suspending four of them.
Spicocchi, who is married, believed his girlfriend was dating another man and attacked her in a jealous rage, according to court records. But the girlfriend, who said she was too fearful of Spicocchi to appear in court yesterday, said in a statement that she was not unfaithful.
"He thought she was cheating on him, but she wasn't," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Lisa Bergman. The attack "came completely out of the blue," Bergman said.
In the statement, read by Bergman, the woman gave this account: When she came home that day, she found Spicocchi hiding in a closet, armed with a gun and a 10-inch knife. He stripped her and wrapped her in tape, then dragged her around the apartment by her hair. He forced the gun into her mouth and held the knife to her throat. He beat her repeatedly. He told her that he would cut open her veins and that, because of his training, he knew how long it would take the blood to drain from her body.
"He said I had met my match," she said in the statement.
He told her that he planned to kill her and that she would soon join her father, who had died 10 months earlier. He said that he would write a check for $100,000 from her account and flee to South America after she was dead and that he had a plane ticket for a 6 a.m. flight.
Finally, the woman said, she escaped by running into the hall and screaming for help. "The attack on me was unprovoked," she said in her statement. "I feel lucky to have escaped the monster."
She said Spicocchi had told her he had been divorced for four years.
Defense attorney Thomas Abbenante said that his client had a serious drinking problem and that Spicocchi had also stopped taking his medications, including Klonopin, used to treat panic disorder, and Celexa, an antidepressant. He was drinking heavily before the attack, Abbenante said.
"He's a good man who did a very bad thing," Abbenante said.
But Bergman said that Spicocchi confessed only after he realized that police had enough evidence to convict him, and that he had asked the police officer to let him go, as a favor, "cop to cop."
Spicocchi's former FBI colleagues declined to comment at the sentencing, but more than a dozen sent letters to the judge telling him that they believed this act was an aberration in an otherwise upstanding life.
"Carl was not only a premier law enforcement agent but a fine and conscientious gentleman," wrote Lou J. Ronca, a supervisory special agent with the FBI.
Spicocchi resigned from the FBI, giving up the right to any pension. He cried at the hearing, saying he was sorry for what he had done to the victim and to his family.
"I offer my sincere apologies," he said, giving no further explanation for his actions.
Spicocchi's wife, who attended yesterday's hearing, wiped away tears as she discussed the verdict with Abbenante. She declined to comment.
At the end of the hearing, the man who had spent his life pursuing criminals was led away to a jail cell in a blue jumpsuit.