James Scandirito Jr., who admitted he cut up his father’s body and hid the remains, is appealing his conviction and 15-year prison sentence.
Scandirito, son of ex-judge and former Macomb County commissioner James “Skip” Scandirito, also is challenging the police costs that a Florida judge recently ordered him to pay.
On Aug. 16, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes ruled the younger Scandirito, better known as “Jimmy,” must pay $74,650.59 to reimburse police for costs of the criminal investigation in 2018.
Jimmy’s lawyers claim the payment order is an additional sanction that amounts to double jeopardy after he already had been sentenced in June to the maximum prison term and fines totaling more than $10,000.
According to court records, Scandirito, 50, cited the following reasons as the basis for his appeal:
• Kastrenakes’ decision at sentencing to not let Scandirito qualify for drug offender probation or drug treatment because there was no evidence of drug addiction. Through his lawyers, Scandirito claimed he was in a treatment program and a prosecution witness had testified he had a chronic drug addiction.
• A “discretionary fine” of $10,500 imposed by the judge on the same day he was ordered to spend 15 years behind bars without considering any evidence whether Scandirito could afford to pay for costs of prosecution.
• Kastrenakes signing the “final sentence and judgment” and then attempting to impose additional punishment – restitution costs -- in violation of the Constitution.
“Such an additional criminal sanction, after imposing sentence and signing final judgement in the case – without reserving in the written orders – violates double jeopardy,” the Palm Beach County Public Defender Office said in a 7-page could filing.
• The judge’s denial of two motions by Scandirito’s lawyers – one in March 2019 and the other in June 2019 -- that he disqualify himself from the case. Kastrenakes rejected arguments by defense attorneys that he should step down as the trial judge because Scandirito had a “well-grounded fear” the judge could not be impartial because he had presided over the March 2017 wedding of John Parnofiello, one of the two Palm Beach County assistant prosecutors who handled the trial this year, and that neither man had disclosed the personal relationship to the defense. In the second failed motion, one of Scandirito’s lawyers questioned the propriety of the other assistant prosecutor on the case, Emily Walters – accompanied by Kastrenakes – seen leaving an area restricted for judges. Three days later, prosecutors filed a 61-page sentencing memo requesting the maximum 15-years prison sentence and approximately $87,000 in fines.
As for ordering restitution of police costs as permitted by Florida law, Scandirito claims the amount must be related only to any criminal charged of which a defendant is convicted. His attorneys argued that much of the costs tabulated involving dozens of police personnel were related to the homicide aspect of the case starting after April 4, 2018 when parts of Skip Scandirito’s dismembered body were found buried on an abandoned golf course and in a Dumpster.
“The state was unable to delineate costs for the investigation of the singular conviction, abuse of a dead body, from costs invested in the investigation of acquitted behaviors,” Scandirito’s attorneys said in court filings.
The accused son testified he found his father dead after they were drinking beer and consuming edible marijuana in Skip Scandirito’s home on the night of March 28, 2018. He said he believed his 74-year-old father died from a cocaine overdose.
He admitted using a hand saw to cut apart his father’s body, wrapped up the parts in plastic garbage bags and put them in three suitcases, two of which were found in a Dumpster.
Some body parts were found buried on a closed golf course that Jimmy Scandirito was seen leaving while under police surveillance on April 4, 2018.
Skip Scandirito’s head and limbs were never found.
Jimmy Scandirito, who also resided in Florida, insisted he didn’t kill his dad. He claimed he panicked and that he feared being arrested if police found drugs in his father’s home.
Palm Beach County prosecutors tried to show the accused son was virtually broke and motivated by money as the lone beneficiary of his father’s estate, valued at approximately $800,000.
The jury in the case found Scandirito not guilty of first-degree murder but convicted him of mutilating a corpse.
Elizabeth Ramsey, one of the younger Scandirito’s trial attorneys, said at his sentencing on June 21 he has shown remorse and that she witnessed him weep “many times” over the loss of his father.
Kastrenakes, however, noted during the sentencing hearing the younger Scandirito didn’t show express those feelings in the month his father was missing.
“The defendant took a course of conduct intended to obstruct the investigation into the location of his missing father,” Kastrenakes said from the bench before handing down the maximum prison sentence of 15 years. “The defendant went about a sophisticated methodology to dispose the remains of his father. It was intended that his father’s remains never be found.”
He said Scandirito attempted to lead police to believe his father drowned in a kayaking accident.
“It was the opposite of remorse,” the judge said. “It was a sophisticated cover-up (the disposal) of his father’s remains.”
Ramsey did not return a phone call Monday from The Macomb Daily.
Scandirito’s first trial, in September 2018, ended in a mistrial when Ramsey was hospitalized for an unexpected medical condition.
In terms of his appeal, Scandirito Jr. already has been legally declared “insolvent and indigent” in terms of his ability to pay for another round of costs. A public defender is expected to be appointed to represent him at taxpayers’ expense.