BINGHAMTON (AP) "" A Norwich woman and her landlord, a New Jersey man, were given lengthy federal prison sentences Wednesday for selling a 12-year-old girl for sex as payment for back rent.
Dean Sacco, 50, of Jersey City, N.J., was sentenced to life in federal prison, while 47-year-old Linda O'Connor was given a minimum 30-year sentence.
"I believe you are a seriously sick predator," U.S. Senior Court Judge Thomas McAvoy told Sacco. "You need to be put where you can't hurt children again."
Sacco and O'Connor were convicted in August by a federal court jury of sex trafficking and producing child pornography. Sacco, who served time in prison for hijacking a bus in 1991, was also convicted of transporting a minor over state lines to engage in sexual conduct.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Miroslav Lovric called Sacco a sexual psychopath and a sexual fiend.
"He will always be a danger to society," Lovric said.
The girl, now 15, read two poems addressed to O'Connor that talked about her loss of innocence and the pain she has suffered. She said she never wanted to see O'Connor again.
The girl also sat through Sacco's sentencing but did not address him.
Defense attorneys said they would appeal.
"I think this case will go on for quite a while," said Lisa Peebles, a federal public defender who represented O'Connor. "Hopefully, it will turn around. She has maintained her innocence from the start."
"The government took a position in this case that they were going to make him an example from the beginning, and essentially make a show of it," said Kelly Fischer, Sacco's lawyer.
O'Connor rented an apartment from Sacco in Norwich beginning in August 2006, according to court records.
The girl testified for more than six hours at trial, but often could not remember details of some accusations she made against Sacco and O'Connor. Defense attorneys highlighted the discrepancies in her various statements to authorities as they tried to portray her as a manipulator who lied to police and caseworkers.
The girl testified she had sexual intercourse with Sacco on seven occasions between August 2006 and February 2007. She was 12 and 13 at the time. The girl also said Sacco taped himself having sex with her at a Norwich apartment in 2006.
But police investigators testified they did not find any pornographic images of the girl on the computers or cameras they seized in the case.
The girl also testified that O'Connor sold her for sex with two different strangers at a Johnson City hotel in late 2006. Investigators rebutted that claim, testifying that they were unable to locate the men.
The girl said she faced homelessness and Sacco threatened to kill her if she didn't comply.
Sacco and O'Connor were charged in a seven-count federal indictment in February. Sacco was also charged in Chenango County on felony charges, while O'Connor was charged by Norwich police with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal contempt.