Asked by the judge if the allegations were true, Desmond said, “I will admit that they’re essentially true.”
Vitale, asked the same question, offered a similar answer, only to be confronted by Fortes-White. “You’re pleading guilty, sir. You’re in a different position.” Vitale then admitted that the allegations were true.
Ronan said Vitale’s actions hindered police as they were searching for the culprits in three assaults, all the while knowing that it was his own nephew and a friend.
“Mr. Vitale and Ms. Desmond were both officers of the court, tasked with assisting the judicial process,” Ronan told the judge.
Desmond’s attorney, John Andrews, said his client was “humiliated” by “an admittedly serious lapse in judgment,” and could imagine no greater punishment than for her to lose the job she had worked hard to attain.
Anthony Rossi, who represented Vitale, told the judge his client tried to break up the fight, then suffered a lapse in judgment by lying to the police. But Rossi blamed “significant mental health issues,” identified by Vitale as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, for the behavior. Part of his probation will involve mental health treatment as well as an alcohol abuse evaluation.
Rossi also urged the judge to reduce or eliminate the community service requirement and the fees Vitale will have to pay, contending that the former officer is now in poor health and financially destitute, receiving just $510 a month in public assistance. Fortes-White said she would consider those requests if Rossi provides documentation of those claims.
While both will have resigned from their jobs as a result of the case, it remains unclear whether they will also lose their pensions.