A gambler who took part in the 2004 killing of a Long Island bookies’ runner has finally admitted his culpability in the case, Newsday reports.
Mark Orlando, then 33, lured Bobby Calabrese, 24, to a deserted industrial area in Island Park, between the mainland and the island of Long Beach.
Orlando had promised to hand over a $17,000 gambling debt to the younger man. But he had no intention of paying.
Instead, he and another man, Herve Jeannot, ambushed Calabrese. Orlando held the victim while former US Marine Jeannot shot him once in the head with a .44 caliber revolver. Jeannot shot him two more times in the back of the head as he lay on the ground.
Orlando hoped he could avoid paying the $17,000 debt he owed Calabrese’s boss by paying $4,000 to Jeannot to carry out the killing instead.
Now 50, Orlando admitted this for the first time around two weeks ago, prosecutors said Monday. He confessed before a judge sentenced him to 23 years in prison.
He had previously been serving 25 years to life for the second-degree murder of Calabrese. But in 2019, a federal appellate court overturned his original conviction.
The appellate panel ruled a detective’s testimony that Jeannot had stated Orlando paid him to commit the murder violated the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. The clause guarantees a defendant the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against” them and bars the admission of certain hearsay evidence.
Jeannot committed suicide at the Nassau County Jail in 2010, eight hours after his own conviction for murder.
It’s not clear what prompted Orlando to plead guilty at his retrial. But prosecutor Stefanie Palma said Monday it proved “what everyone has known for the last 16 years, that this defendant had Bobby Calabrese killed.”
Orlando’s conviction at last ends a long and painful journey for the Calabrese family, who were forced to endure six trials in total over 17 years.
Before Jeannot’s eventual conviction, two of his trials ended in hung juries, and the third was declared a mistrial,
“It takes a subhuman coward to find a sucker to carry out such a sickening act … You know you are guilty,” the victim’s mother, Kathy Calabrese, told Orlando Monday, as reported by Newsday. “If it wasn’t for you, Bobby would be with us.”
Calabrese was a high school wrestling champion, who, despite his fatal flirtation with illegal bookmaking, planned to become a police officer like his father. He was due to take the Long Beach Police Department entrance examination the day after he was killed.
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