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Disabled man says he beaten, robbed at friend's New Port Richey home

NEW PORT RICHEY — Frank Smith went to the house on Cancille Street so his friend could borrow his cell phone.

In return, he got a brutal beating.

The attack occurred Dec. 1. Sheriff's deputies arrested 25-year-old Michael Cappello on Tuesday.

Accounts from the people involved, as told to authorities, leave some room for skepticism.

Such as: Smith, who is 44 and disabled, said Danielle Graziano, 69, called him to ask to use his cell phone.

He obliged.

But when Smith arrived around 7 p.m. at 4348 Cancille St., where Graziano rents a room with her 25-year-old boyfriend, the character of the visit changed. Smith said Cappello came out of a bedroom and began to yell at him, accusing Smith of trying to rape Graziano, the sheriff's report said.

Smith said he had no idea what Cappello was talking about. But as he tried to calm Cappello down, Cappello began to punch and kick him, the report said. He followed Smith into the laundry room, the report said, where the beating continued until Smith collapsed on the floor.

Cappello then raided his pockets, the report said, lifting $300 cash, two bottles of prescription pain pills, Smith's cell phone and his pocket knife. He used that to threaten Smith, the report said, jabbing it at him and telling him to get out.

Smith went to a neighbor's house to call 911, and when he returned to tell Cappello and Graziano that deputies were on the way, the pair left.

A deputy who investigated observed blood on Smith's face, around his mouth and on the laundry room floor. He also noted that Smith appeared to be intoxicated, the report says.

Graziano was first listed as a suspect in the case but is now considered a witness, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

"We don't know if she knew what the other guy was going to do, even though she left with him afterward," he said. "The victim says that he never saw her there when he was getting beat up."

Cappello faces a charge of armed robbery. He remained in jail Wednesday, in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Disabled man says he beaten, robbed at friend's New Port Richey home 12/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 22, 2008 4:10pm]

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