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Villains plan foiled

Ciro LaCorte's transformation from retired policeman to owner of a community-oriented theater was not without its bumps and detours and surprises.

As LaCorte tells it, he never knew the owner of the theater building until a mutual friend asked him for help. It seems that the man who ran the porno movie house in the theater and later, a questionable telemarketing scheme in the space above, was working overtime to scam the elder owner -- then confined to a nursing home -- out of his theater.

His friend, who was close to the theater owner and saw what was transpiring, asked LaCorte to intercede. LaCorte gave it some thought and finally agreed to do what he could. Little did he know that his decision would be the beginning of protracted efforts on his part and a lengthy and complex legal battle that would involve the courts all the way up to the federal level.

In the end, after years of litigation, the evil schemer -- just like in those old silent flicks -- was ultimately foiled. The courts, in their wisdom, saw to it that the contested building stayed with its rightful owner.

Grateful to the former policeman's assistance beyond the call of duty, the owner expressed his wish that the theater should go to LaCorte at his death. When the businessman died in 2003 at 91, the family got in touch with LaCorte and asked him if he would take over ownership of the theater.

"I wasn't so sure about it," LaCorte said. "For one thing, there was the little matter of taxes. I had to pay 30 grand in back taxes. But by then, I was committed. I couldn't back down."

-- Richard Huntington

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