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Volpi

JEFFERSON — It’s been nearly three years since a prominent Ashtabula business owner was charged with rape and sexual activity with underage girls.

The trial for 65-year-old Thomas L. Volpi has been delayed several times, but Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court officials say the trial will begin with jury selection at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, with Judge Thomas Harris presiding.

Ashtabula County Prosecutor Colleen O’Toole said she expects it will take at least one day to select the jury because of pre-trial publicity and Volpi is well known in the community from his former catering business.

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.

He has hired Cleveland attorneys Mark R. DeVan and William Livingston to represent him.

Two years ago, Volpi rejected a plea negotiation from prosecutors in which he could have pleaded to seven of the 39 counts against him, former Ashtabula County Prosecutor Cecilia Cooper said.

The trial has been delayed four times — first delayed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and again in July because an older case had to be tried first, and again for COVID earlier this month.

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 Ashtabula home and his catering 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 an HIV test and wear a GPS tracking device on his ankle. Last month, he asked for the tracking device to be removed and Harris denied the request.

The Ashtabula Police Department and Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the case and executed search warrants at his home and business.

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