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Former TV weatherman gets nearly 5 years in prison for sex crimes

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Updated: 12/20/2013 4:24 pm
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (PBP) -- Former WPTV-Channel 5 weatherman Rob Lopicola was sentenced to 56 months in prison Friday morning for luring teen boys to have sex.

He will get credit for the 18 months he has already spent in jail, meaning he will have to serve about another three years in incarceration. He also will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

After a three hour hearing in which Lopicola, dressed in jailhouse blues, pleaded for mercy, Palm Beach County Judge Barry Cohen said he believed Lopicola’s remorse but wouldn’t go below the 34-month minimum penalty recommended under sentencing guidelines.

Cohen also said he didn’t believe Lopicola was a monster and can go on to lead a productive life.

Earlier, however, Cohen declined to throw out any of Lopicola’s charges and rejected his attorney’s request for a new trial.

Lopicola’s attorney, Kristy Militello, had argued that the time he had served in jail was enough. She asked that he be given probation and treatment and be allowed to move to Tampa to care for his mother.

Prosecutors asked for a 10 year sentence in prison and said anything less than 34 months in prison was too little to punish Lopicola, who, they said, has never learned from his mistakes.

Lopicola made an impassioned plea for mercy. “I screwed everything up…I’ve probably hurt many people in my life I didn’t even know,” he said in court.

He continued, “I will remain clean and sober. I will abide by the principles of the 12-step recovery program. Please give a chance to rebuild.”

The 44-year-old who won local TV audiences over with his broad smile and good looks could have been sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison He has been jailed since his arrest in June 2012.

Militello asked Cohen to throw out his convictions for computer pornography and exploitation. In a trial in October that was filled with salacious allegations about his penchant for online fantasy role-playing, a jury convicted him of those charges and lewd and lascivious conduct involving a 15-year-old. He was acquitted, however, of lewd and lascivious battery on the 15-year-old.

About a week later, he pleaded guilty to attempted battery on a child in connection with allegations by a young man, who testified that their plans for sex were dashed in 2010 when the youth’s mother arrived home unexpectedly. The young man was 17 at the time. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a more serious charge of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and not to seek additional prison time.

If Cohen had agreed to throw out two of the charges, Lopicola’s minimum sentence would have droped to about two years.

One of the area’s most popular local TV personalities, Lopicola resigned from Channel 5 amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with young men.

A prosecutor said Friday that Lopicola was fired from Chanel 5 after someone he sent his naked picture to sent it to his boss.
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