, Salem, MA

May 14, 2014

Student charged in attacks seeks deal


---- — BEVERLY — The four attorneys now representing a former Endicott College student charged in a series of unprovoked and violent “knockout” assaults on campus earlier this year will sit down with a judge and a prosecutor next month, hoping to work out a plea deal in the case.

Dillon DeStefano, 20, of River Vale, N.J., is currently being held without bail in the Feb. 2 attacks that left one of his victims with a shattered eye socket and another with a broken and dislocated jaw. A third student escaped serious injury.

DeStefano was arraigned yesterday on a newly added charge of witness intimidation, stemming from his alleged statement to an acquaintance who was with him that night not to say anything to police and mentioning that his family has ties to organized crime.

One of his attorneys, William Cintolo, asked Salem Superior Court Judge John Lu if he could move the case to the court’s “early disposition session” to discuss a possible resolution short of trial.

The early disposition sessions, which were established at the court shortly after it moved to Ruane Judicial Center, are opportunities for attorneys to lobby on behalf of clients who want to avoid trial by accepting responsibility at the beginning stages of a criminal case, rather than waiting until they have exhausted all avenues in challenging the charges and evidence.

The judge explained to Cintolo that the philosophy behind the sessions is that if a defendant is prepared to accept responsibility early on in a case, it suggests that the person is more amenable to rehabilitation. That would then become a factor in sentencing.

But Cintolo had another question: Who would conduct the session? The Boston attorney mentioned that he had seen the name of Judge Peter Lauriat, who regularly sits in Suffolk and Middlesex Superior Courts, on the schedule for Salem Superior Court next month.

“I’m not judge shopping,” Cintolo quickly added.

“As a reality, it probably goes to Judge (Howard) Whitehead or Judge (David) Lowy,” Lu told the attorney. The sessions have alternated between the two longtime Essex judges.

Besides Cintolo, DeStefano is represented by Boston attorney Martin Weinberg, Salem lawyer Ray Buso and Tom Kiley, who is a partner in the firm where Cintolo works.

The lobby conference with a judge is scheduled for June 10.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.