The bond for a former Yuma police officer who has been charged with one count of luring a minor for sexual exploitation was lowered Friday during a condition of release hearing in Yuma County Superior Court.
During the hearing, attorney Michael Donovan, who represents 25-year-old Ron Anton Ciancimino, informed the court that his client could not afford to pay the bond at the amount it is currently set at and asked that his client be released on his own promise to appear.
Donovan explained that when his client's bail was previously set as a $109,906 cash-only bond he was facing three charges instead of the one against him now. Donovan said when the initial criminal complaint was filed against Ciancimino he was charged with three counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation. However, the grand jury only indicted him on one of the offenses.
Furthermore, the charge is not a dangerous offense against a child, he said, and that it is a probation available offense if convicted. He added that the alleged victim in the case has continued to make statements in support of this defendant saying that no crime was committed.
"While certainly at this stage it is not her determination, but she has supported the defendant," Donovan said. "The victim has made it very clear that any of the photographs of her that may have been inappropriate, were not sent to the defendant, were not produced by him, were not photographed by him, had nothing to do with him. They are related to a separate and distinct individual who she was with."
Donovan also stated that he wanted the court to consider that his client is a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, he owns a home in Yuma, has a supportive family, and prior to the allegation currently against him, had never been in trouble with the law.
However, prosecutor Karolyn Kaczorowski, of the Yuma County Attorney's Office, asked that the bond remain at the current amount, saying the investigation is still ongoing and that there are still people who need to be interviewed and forensics to complete.
She added that she also believes Ciancimino to be a flight risk given the seriousness of the charge against him and that he did not have any ties to the community other than a home he owns in Yuma.
"He doesn't have the ties to stay here, and the only thing here for him is bad," Kaczorowski said. "He doesn't have a reason to stay here, except to have a bond that would secure his appearance here."
Kaczorowski went on to tell the court that although the alleged victim maintains no crime was committed, the state is moving forward with its case because it believes the weight of the evidence it has against the defendant is very strong and that a conviction is likely.
"The view of the victim is that she is opposed to prosecution, however, that does impact the state at all because the nature and circumstance of the offense is that the defendant was a Yuma police officer who solicited sexual conduct from a 16-year-old girl," Kaczorowski said. "Not only do we have documentary evidence, but in speaking with the victim she does confirm the conversations, as does the defendant."
After listening to arguments from both sides, Superior Court judge John Nelson, who is presiding over the case denied Donovan's request. He did, however, order his client's bond be reduced to a $20,000 cash-only bond.The next hearing in the case is a comprehensive management conference schedule for 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 15.
In September, deputies from the Yuma County Sheriff's Office were sent to Yuma Regional Medical Center after receiving reports that a 16-year-old girl at the hospital had been a victim of a possible sexual offense.
The deputies met with the victim and learned that 27-year-old Joshua Jonathan Alpizar and Ciancimino were potentially involved. Two days later, YCSO investigators contacted Alpizar at his residence in the 3000 block of West 8th Street. Alpizar reportedly admitted to the allegations and was arrested. He has since been charged with three felony counts of sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of sexual expolitation of a minor and one count of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.
The following day, with the assistance of YPD, YCSO investigators contacted Ciacimino at the police department and transported him to the detention center for questioning. He was later arrested and booked into jail.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.