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Federal panel upholds Maurizio conviction

The conviction and 200-month prison sentence of a Somerset County priest for the sexual abuse of several children who were living at an orphanage in El Progresso, Honduras, was upheld Monday by a federal appeals court.

U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson 16 months ago sentenced the priest, Joseph D. Maurizio, now 71, of Central City, for the sexual abuse of two children, possession of child pornography consisting of nude photographs of several other children, and the use of charitable funds collected in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown “to promote illicit sexual contact with a minor.”

Altoona attorney Steven P. Passarello represented Maurizio during the lengthy September 2015 trial.

The jury convicted Maurizio on five counts but acquitted him on three other charges.

After the verdict was returned, Passarello joined with two other attorneys, Thomas J. Farrell and Devin M. Misour of Pittsburgh, for an appeal to the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.

The defense team questioned the sufficiency of the evidence, maintained there was government misconduct and that Gibson improperly instructed the jury concerning the charges or attempts by Maurizio to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.

On Monday, a three-judge panel, Thomas Vanaski, Thomas L. Ambro, and Anthony Joaseph Scirica, rejected all three arguments.

The Mirror will have more details in Wednesday’s print edition.

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