JEFFERSON — The attorney for an Ashtabula man accused of sexual activity with underage girls is asking the court to delay the trial, previously set for Tuesday, because of COVID-19, according to court officials.
Thomas L. Volpi, 63, former owner of what was Albino’s Meats and Catering in Ashtabula, is charged with 12 counts of rape, each a first-degree felony; 11 counts of sexual battery, each a third-degree felony; five counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, each a third-degree felony; nine counts of gross sexual imposition, each a fourth-degree felony; and two counts of furnishing alcohol to underage persons, each a first-degree misdemeanor, according to court records.
Volpi rejected a plea negotiation from prosecutors. He would have pled to seven of the 39 counts against him, County Prosecutor Cecilia Cooper said.
County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Harris, who will preside over the trial, said he was notified on Tuesday afternoon that Volpi’s Cleveland attorneys did not feel comfortable staying in hotels during the pandemic.
Volpi was arrested Aug. 14, 2019 after a grand jury issued a 39-count indictment, charging he furnished alcohol, raped and sexually assaulted two teenaged girls, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, Volpi engaged in acts of sexual assault with a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl.
The incidents are alleged to have occurred July 5-6, 2019 at Volpi’s home and former business.
Volpi was released from jail after posting a $200,000 cash or surety bond shortly after his arraignment.
According to stipulations in the bond, Volpi is to have no contact with the alleged victims or any other juveniles, submit to a HIV test and wear a GPS tracking device.
Volpi has hired Cleveland attorneys, Mark R. DeVan and William Livingston, to represent him.
Volpi’s 24-year-old co-defendant, Tiara Babbitt, of Ashtabula, is accused of having sexual conduct with a then-15-year-old involved in Volpi’s case. She is out of jail on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. As a stipulation to the bond, she’s not allowed to have contact with the victim and must check in with the probation department. Her next hearing is set for 2 p.m. Oct. 5. It’s unclear if that will be delayed, as well.
The Ashtabula Police Department and Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the case and executed several search warrants at Volpi’s residence and business.