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Bipolar millionaire with ties to region gets no mercy in 2nd offense

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Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Mark Juliano promised two years ago to stay on his anti-psychotic medications when the federal government charged him with cyber-stalking his ex-wife, and he got probation for pleading to a lesser charge.

The millionaire Internet entrepreneur, who got his business start in Western Pennsylvania, made the same promise on Thursday.

This time, the judge isn't buying it.

“We went through this process before,” a visibly angry Senior U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch said at the end of a probation revocation hearing Downtown.

Juliano, 54, who has been living in Sonoma, Calif., since 2011, left rambling, threatening messages on the voice mail of his federal probation officer and skipped town to Reno in February, prosecutors said. Authorities arrested him Feb. 19.

“He promised me that he would take his medication, and he didn't,” Bloch said before ordering lawyers to come up with a treatment plan for Juliano by next week.

Juliano remains in federal custody.

“I'm so sorry I said what I said,” Juliano said through tears. “It's scary as hell to know that you're sick.”

The former Edgeworth resident founded several Internet startups, including MediaSite and the podcasting company TalkShoe, and was an executive at North Hills-based FORE Systems Inc. and Avidia Corp.

His legal troubles began in 2010 during a custody battle with his ex-wife, Lisa Lisanti of Edgeworth, who was raising their four children.

Edgeworth police charged him with harassment for sending threatening emails to her and her attorney while he was the subject of a protection from abuse order and barred from seeing his family without a sheriff's deputy present. A psychiatrist and psychologist told Bloch on Thursday that Juliano's bipolar disorder — which doctors diagnosed in 1996 — and manic episodes that year likely resulted from his failure to take medicine.

In 2011, Juliano pleaded guilty to making false statements for trying to get a replacement passport after he surrendered his while awaiting trial on a charge of cyberstalking his wife. Bloch sentenced him to three years of probation with strict reporting rules while Juliano lived in California.

Juliano said he and his psychiatrist “made a joint decision” to wean him off lithium in 2012. By January, he experienced a full psychotic episode, specialists said.

Defense attorney David J. Betras argued the psychosis meant Juliano didn't know the consequences of his actions when he told the probation officer, “I don't want to hurt you” and posed in a second voicemail as an FBI agent. He said Juliano did not reach out to Lisanti, although he mentioned her family in the voicemails.

Bloch said Juliano should have known the consequences of stopping his medication.

“His mental state was caused by his own actions,” he said.

David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5802 or dconti@tribweb.com.

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