A federal jury in Alexandria convicted the owner of a Washington restaurant yesterday of conspiring to distribute cocaine, but it failed to reach a verdict on a second charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
Savino Recine, 35, who owns the Galileo Restaurant at 2014 P St. NW, was found guilty of conspiring with Angelo Puccinelli to sell 27 grams of the drug for $1,800 in October 1983 outside the Terrazza restaurant at 710 King St., Alexandria, where Puccinelli then worked as a waiter.
But after six hours of deliberation, the jury reported to U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams that it could not reach a unanimous verdict on the second charge.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Crocker told Williams the government would decide on Wednesday whether to dismiss the second charge or ask for a retrial on that count.
In testimony Monday, FBI agent M. Glenn Tuttle said under cross-examination by Recine's lawyer, Gilbert K. Davis, that Recine's arrest came about "partially" as a result of an FBI investigation of suspected drug trafficking by personnel at the Terrazza Ristorante, including its owner, Giulio Santillo.
Williams expelled Santillo from his courtroom Monday after he began making facial gestures at Puccinelli while his former employe was on the witness stand.
Yesterday Davis told the jury that FBI "investigation was not that drugs were going into Terrazza restaurant. It's that drugs were going out of it."
Tuttle and government prosecutors declined to elaborate on the FBI investigation outside the courtroom.
Recine, who has lived in the Washington area since 1972, was not arrested and charged in the October 1983 drug sale until April this year.
The jury's difficulties in reaching a verdict on the second charge of possession of cocaine may have stemmed from a discrepancy in the testimony of Puccinelli and agent Tuttle.
Puccinelli pleaded guilty last week to possessing cocaine with intent to distribute it and agreed to testify for the government at Recine's trial.
He testified yesterday that he gave Recine $1,800 and then had to pick up the cocaine from where Recine had hidden it -- between a car tire and a curbstone.
Tuttle, who was in a nearby van with an FBI surveillance team at the time of the transaction, said he did not see Puccinelli bend down to retrieve the cocaine.
Davis made the most of that discrepancy and sought to discredit Puccinelli as a reliable witnesss, implying that Recine had been framed.
Recine could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and fined up to $125,000. Sentencing was scheduled for July 16.