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Former Kennedy officer given probation in fraud case

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 12:37 p.m.

A police officer committing mail fraud is worse than a regular citizen committing mail fraud, but a former Kennedy officer deserves a second chance, a federal judge decided Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill sentenced Frank Caligiuri Jr., 42, of Robinson to two years of probation, starting with four months of home detention, so he can attend classes in computer numerical control machining at the University of Pittsburgh's Harmar campus.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Karl argued against Cohill showing Caligiuri leniency. When police officers commit fraud, it “runs the risk of eroding the public's trust,” he said.

Cohill agreed that Caligiuri's crime was particularly egregious because he was a police officer.

“But I think you also have a good shot at rehabilitation, and we're going to give you that chance,” he said.

Caligiuri told the judge that the course has a 95 percent placement rate, and the occupation has a starting salary of at least $50,000.

He and his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Thomas Livingston, declined comment after the hearing.

Caligiuri pleaded guilty in July to mail fraud. He filed a motor vehicle theft claim with GEICO on his 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle so that he could collect about $14,900, prosecutors said.

When federal prosecutors charged Caligiuri in November 2011, he was facing state charges of drunken driving and striking a pedestrian on West Carson Street in the South Side. The state charges were later thrown out.

Caligiuri voluntarily resigned from the police force shortly after prosecutors filed the federal charges.

Cohill also sentenced Caligiuri to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $14,925 in restitution to GEICO, but that amount will be reduced by the $5,800 the government obtained by auctioning off his motorcycle.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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