|Anthony C. Cappuccio|
By Peter Hall
The state Supreme Court has stripped a former Bucks County assistant district attorney of his law license after he admitted in 2009 to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy.
Anthony C. Cappuccio resigned from his post as second-in-command in the district attorney's office in September 2008, a day after Richland Township police found him and the boy partially clothed in a car about midnight in a parking lot along Route 309.
In the decision to disbar Cappuccio, Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille wrote that evidence shows Cappuccio gained the trust of the boy's parents because he was a public official and the leader of a church youth group.
"His public persona was that of a law enforcement figure in the county, prosecuting members of the public for similar crimes," Castille wrote. "In our view, any sanction short of disbarment in these circumstances threatens the integrity of the legal system."
Investigators learned Cappuccio, 35, of Hilltown Township had a sexual relationship with the boy that began in the spring of 2008 and involved sex once a week over three months.
As Youth Fellowship adviser at First United Methodist Church in Perkasie, Cappuccio took the boy and at least two others to several rock concerts in 2007 and 2008, when he bought them alcohol and smoked marijuana with them.
He pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children, criminal use of a computer, corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors. He served six months in Northampton County Prison and will remain on probation until 2017.
Cappuccio challenged the recommendation by the state attorney disciplinary office that he be disbarred, saying that a five-year suspension from the practice of law was an appropriate penalty.
Castille noted that although Cappuccio had not previously been disciplined as an attorney, had no prior criminal record, cooperated with investigators and expressed remorse, his case lacked other factors that might call for a less severe sanction.
In a similar case, an attorney who plied minors with alcohol and involved them in sexual behavior received a suspension of his law license because, unlike Cappuccio, he could show the behavior was caused by a psychological condition.
Cappuccio's disbarment was also warranted by the fact his misconduct involved a number of minors over an extended period, Castille wrote in the court's unanimous decision.
Attorney Samuel C. Stretton of West Chester, Chester County, represented Cappuccio. He said Cappuccio will be eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2014.