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Glitch puts Pignataro back in court

Because of a technicality in state law, Anthony Pignataro will be resentenced next month for trying to kill his wife.

Pignataro was back in a Buffalo courtroom Thursday after Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III ordered his return from the state's Franklin Correctional Facility to be resentenced on his 2001 plea for trying to kill his wife in 1999 by putting arsenic in her food.

When now-retired State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti sentenced the former cosmetic surgeon in February 2001, he did not include post-release supervision provisions, which had just been added to the state's criminal laws by the State Legislature.

State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski on Thursday put off the technically required resentencing until at least April 8.

Pignataro, 51, a former physician, is still trying to persuade his former attorney, Joel L. Daniels -- one of the state's top defense lawyers -- to rejoin his defense team before the resentencing.

With Pignataro up for parole consideration late in 2013, prosecutors want him resentenced by Michalski with the post-release supervision clause declared by the new judge to not be a condition of the resentencing.

After Thursday's brief court session, Anthony J. Lana, Pignataro's new court-assigned lawyer, said he agrees with Sedita about the need for the resentencing, which he feels will work in Pignataro's favor and possibly shorten the time he will be behind bars.

According to state prison system documents, Pignataro has to be released from prison before the end of 2016 unless he is convicted of prison infractions.

Thursday, the nearly bald Pignataro, who once also operated a lucrative side business selling hair replacement products, asked Michalski for more time to try to retain Daniels.

Michalski said that he personally asked Daniels to return as Pignataro's lawyer but that Daniels had declined.

At Lana's request, the judge ordered that Pignataro be housed in the state's Collins Correctional Facility at least until his next scheduled court session April 8 so Lana can easily confer with him.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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