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Little Italy Bocce Figure Charged with Fraud

December 4, 2012

Salvatore Petti, a 76-year-old Ellicott City resident who has been at the center of a still-simmering dispute involving the bocce courts in Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood (“Bocce Brawl,” Feature, June 22, 2011), has been charged in U.S. District Court with fraud for allegedly diverting funds from a Social Security Administration employees’ association.

According to the charging documents, Petti had been treasurer of the non-profit Employees Activities Association (EAA) for more than 40 years until 2010, and for about five years until Dec. 2009, “Petti diverted EAA funds for his own personal use to support his lifestyle, which included spending approximately $430,000 at the Borgata Hotel, Casino, & Spa and $43,000 at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino” in Atlantic City between about March 2005 and August 2010.

Petti is also charged with tax evasion for failing to report a total of about a quarter-million dollars in gambling income and EAA income (both authorized and unauthorized) in 2008, depriving the government of about $36,000 in taxes.

The charging document also includes a forfeiture count that seeks to take property from Petti – including the contents of a retirement account and other bank accounts, a personal seat license for the Baltimore Ravens, and three Marriott timeshares – valued at about $87,000.

“I haven’t gone before the judge yet,” Petti said during a brief phone call on Dec. 4, the day after the charges were filed in court, “so I can’t say anything.” A lawyer and EAA boardmember, Ron Blavatt, said he hadn’t yet seen the charging documents, and so declined to comment about the allegations against Petti.

Petti, Giovanna Blatterman, and other members of a Little Italy bocce committee last year sued Thomas Macchia, a member of another bocce league, in Howard County for defamation and property destruction. After lengthy litigation, they won, and in October a $2,750 judgment was entered against Macchia, who tells City Paper he expects the legal dispute will continue despite the recent outcome, which he believes to be unjust.