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Judge sets bail for College Pt. man at $2 million

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In May 2000 the...

By Chris Fuchs

After refusing to set bail last year for a College Point man charged in the 1989 fatal shooting of his business partner, a Queens judge reversed his decision two weeks ago and ordered the man back to jail until he posted $2.25 million.

In May 2000 the police arrested Ralph Romano, the owner of a painting company in College Point, and charged him with murdering a former business partner inside his Astoria home in June 1989, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. The authorities learned of Romano’s alleged involvement in the murder during an investigation of illegal activities in the carting industry. Romano and his business partner, John Spensieri, owned a carting company.

At Romano’s arraignment on charges of second-degree murder last year, State Supreme Court Judge Stephen Hanophy in Kew Gardens ordered that he be held without bail. Soon after Romano’s attorneys filed an appeal in Civil Court, saying Hanophy’s ruling was unfair.

State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Lonschein, who heard the appeal, ruled in favor of Romano and set bail at $2 million, an amount that he posted through a bond by putting up several homes as collateral.

Subsequently, the Queens district attorney appealed. Three weeks ago, the Appellate Division overturned Lonschien’s ruling, sending the case back to Hanophy, the judge who initially arraigned Romano.

But de Bourbon said, Hanophy “inexplicably” reversed his decision and ordered that Romano be returned to jail until he posted $2.25 million in bail.

When determining bail, judges consider a number of factors, including the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, whether there are any outstanding arrest warrants and whether the defendant is likely to leave the jurisdiction.

De Bourbon said the judge required Romano to post the full $2.25 million in addition to the $2 million bail he had come up with earlier.

Romano was arrested 10 years after the murder of his business partner, who was found shot nine times in his Astoria home. During an investigation of the carting business by the Manhattan and Queens district attorneys’ offices, authorities learned about the murder, the district attorney said.

Romano and Spensieri, 51, were partners in a carting business in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the district attorney said, but Romano left and started up his own company in Queens, calling it the College Point Carting Company.

On the evening of June 7, 1989, Romano traveled to Spensieri’s home in Astoria to discuss business, the district attorney said. But the two men began arguing, he said, and Romano allegedly pulled out a 9 mm gun, shooting his former partner nine times in his basement.

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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