Edward Graziano is a man whose life has been defined by crime and tragedy. One son was severely injured in a car crash, another was killed, and he himself is serving a prison sentence.
In prison, Graziano said he has seen firsthand how incarcerated young men "become bitter, angry, hateful and mad at the world."
For that reason, he has written a letter to a judge seeking leniency for the man accused of DUI-manslaughter in the death of his son Michael. Graziano asks the judge to consider putting Cameron Bosley in a halfway house for three years, instead of prison.
"I pray he will be able to forgive himself and go on in his life as a productive member of society having learned from this mistake and use it as a means of being a better person making wise decisions that will help encourage others," Graziano wrote.
"Prison," he wrote, "will only destroy his life."
A Graziano family tragedy became national news in August 2007 when Graziano's son John suffered catastrophic injuries after Nick Bollea lost control of his Toyota Supra and crashed into a palm tree during a street race in Clearwater. Nick Bollea is the son of Terry Bollea, the professional wrestler better known as Hulk Hogan.
While the family was still reeling from the tragedy, Edward Graziano was arrested in February 2009 on a charge of solicitation to commit the murder of his wife, Debra. Pinellas sheriff's officials said Graziano offered $2,100 and a $13.06 Westshore Pizza gift card to a hit man, who was actually an undercover deputy. Graziano pleaded no contest to the crime in 2011 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Then in April 2012, Edward and Debra's son Michael Graziano, 23, was killed in a crash while his longtime friend Bosley was driving. Bosely ran into a dump truck at Ulmerton Road and 66th Street, authorities said. Bosley eventually was charged with DUI-manslaughter after authorities said his blood alcohol level was 0.174, more than twice the level at which Florida law presumes a driver to be impaired.
From the Lawtey Correctional Institution last month, Graziano, 57, wrote that "I miss (Michael) each and every day and I can't stop grieving for him for I never had the chance to say goodbye. I live with the guilt that if I were home where I belonged, this accident most likely never would have occurred and my son would still be with us today."
What's not clear is whether Graziano's letter will make a difference in the case. Legally speaking, it's premature. Bosley, 25, has not been convicted, so it's too early for Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger to consider a sentence. The letter has been placed in the court file, with a notation saying the judge has not read it.
Bosley's attorney Roger Futerman said he thinks Graziano's letter is "very, very, very unlikely to have a bearing in the case." He is optimistic a plea arrangement can be worked out with prosecutors. He said he did not solicit Graziano's letter and had not spoken to him.
Assistant State Attorney Holly Grissinger said no such agreement has been made yet.
George Tragos, an attorney who has worked with Debra Graziano, said, "We are aware that he has written a letter and we don't have a comment.'
Asked for a comment, Carole Dirksmeyer, a victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said in an email that "DUI manslaughter is a serious and violent crime and should be treated that way in the criminal justice system."
Staff writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8232. Twitter: @ckruegertimes.