With numerous visible tattoos, including one on his left forearm that reads "pride," Steven J. Direnzo could not answer any of the questions posed to him by a judge at his arraignment Thursday in Mahoning County Court in Boardman.
However, he did manage to plead not guilty to one of his most recent charges.
Direnzo, 41, 954 Mathews Road in Boardman, was arrested Tuesday after Boardman police detectives and Mahoning County Sheriff's Department detectives pieced together several alleged crimes.
Calling him a "one-man crime wave," Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols said they have been dealing with Direnzo for the past 15 or 20 years, mostly for burglary and receiving stolen property charges.
This time, Direnzo is charged with tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property.
On Tuesday, the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department received a report of a stolen vehicle out of Canfield Township. Boardman police eventually tracked it down to a parking lot at the corner of Mathews Road and South Avenue.
Detectives from the two departments then reviewed surveillance video from the laundromat in the plaza where the car was found and got enough information to obtain a search warrant for the house next to the plaza parking lot, which Direnzo rents. Inside, police found a large amount of jewelery, tools, radio equipment, narcotics and wallets.
Investigators said Direnzo actually pulled up to the home in a white truck while police were there. The truck fit the description of a vehicle used in several home invasions in Pulaski Township in western Pennsylvania.
During his arraignment hearing, Direnzo asked for a court appointed attorney, but he was unable to tell Judge Joseph Houser where he worked, when he last received a paycheck or how much his rent payment is. He told the judge he did not own a vehicle or property and did not have a bank account.
"The next time you are in court, you better be able to better answer these questions," Houser told him.
Direnzo pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property, and will be back in court next week for a preliminary hearing on the tampering with evidence charge, which is a felony.
Houser set Direnzo's bond at $100,000 because of his past criminal record and also because Houser said Direnzo was evasive in answering questions. The judge also said Direnzo would be placed on electronically monitored house arrest if he does post bond.
Court records show Direnzo was arrested by Boardman police on a theft charge Dec. 1, 1997. He pleaded no contest Feb. 12, 1998, and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on one year of probation.
On Aug. 6, 2000, Direnzo was arrested on a charge of obstructing official business. He pleaded no contest to the charge on Nov. 1, 2000, and was given a suspended 90-day jail sentence and one year probation, court records show.
On June 21, 2001, Direnzo was summoned to court for a probation violation hearing after he failed to report to his probation officer and failed to pay his fines and costs. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up for the hearing, court records show.
At an Oct. 15, 2001, probation violation hearing, Direnzo's probation was extended by one year and he was given a payment plan for his fines and costs. He received a second probation violation Jan. 23, 2002, for failing to follow the judge's previous orders.
On Aug. 5, 2002, a judge ordered that his probation be extended until his fines and costs were paid in full, but on May 16, 2003, Direnzo was ordered to serve the remainder of his original 90-day jail sentence. The court's docket entry notes that this was Direnzo's third probation violation.
On April 17, 2005, Direnzo was arrested on three felony charges of trafficking in drugs. He pleaded guilty to two of them on July 15, 2005 and was sentenced to two years of probation on Oct. 26, 2005, including in-house drug treatment at CCA, according to court records.
After violating terms of his probation, Direnzo was sentenced March 6, 2006, to 30 months in prison. He asked for judicial release on Feb. 2, 2007, but his request was denied May 8, 2007, court records show. He sought judicial release a second time on Aug. 7, 2007, but it also was denied.
His third request for judicial release was granted on Nov. 7, 2007 after he served just half of his sentence. He was placed on probation for one year, but was sent back to prison in January of 2008 after he again violated terms of his probation.
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