Trial set for March 31 in rape case


JEFFERSON — A local caterer accused of sexual activity with underage girls will face a jury March 31, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Cecilia Cooper said Wednesday.

Thomas L. Volpi, 63, owner of Albino’s Meats and Catering in Ashtabula, rejected a plea negotiation from prosecutors. He would have pled to seven of the 39 counts against him, Cooper said. 

Consequently, prosecutors will be ready to go to trial at the end of March with County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Harris presiding, Cooper said.

Volpi was arrested Aug. 14 after a grand jury issued a 39-count indictment against him, charging he furnished alcohol, raped and sexually assaulted two teenage girls, according to the indictment.

He 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.

According to the indictment, Volpi “engaged in at least 14 different acts of sexual assault involving a 15-year-old girl and two acts of sexual assault involving a 17-year-old girl.”

The incidents are alleged to have occurred July 5-6 at Volpi’s home and 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’s attorneys, Mark R. DeVan and William Livingston of Cleveland, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Volpi’s 22-year-old co-defendant, Tiara Babbitt, of Ashtabula, is accused of having sexual conduct with the 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 9 a.m. April 17.

The Ashtabula Police Department and Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the case.

As part of the investigation, several search warrants were obtained and executed at Volpi’s residence and business.

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