CLEARWATER — Whatever he may have shoplifted, and it couldn't have been much, proved to be enormously costly for Peter Joseph Rosato.
A decade ago, he was charged with burglary and the sexual assault of an 85-year-old Dunedin woman. Rosato posted bail and then skipped town. In fact, he skipped most of the continent.
Last April, in Anchorage, Alaska, police charged a man with misdemeanor shoplifting. He gave his name as Allen Joseph Thomas. As is routine, he was fingerprinted after his arrest. Thomas failed to show up for a court hearing.
Last month, the story moved back to Pinellas. The U.S. Marshals Office Florida Regional Task Force asked the Sheriff's Office if it wanted help on any outstanding fugitive cases. The Sheriff's Office sent Rosato's case, as well as several others, on June 27.
Now authorities had two sets of fingerprints. One from Dunedin in 1998. One from Anchorage in 2007.
And that's why Peter Joseph Rosato, also known as Allen Joseph Thomas, now 50, was arrested Wednesday and faces extradition back to Florida to faces the same charges he skipped out on 10 years ago.
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Pinellas County sheriff's deputies had arrested Rosato on June 25, 1998, after linking him to a burglary and the assault of an 85-year-old Dunedin woman the previous day.
The victim told deputies that a man wearing a dark shirt and black mask had entered the residence and assaulted her. Marianne Pasha, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said the assault was not rape but was sexual in nature.
After canvassing the neighborhood with a composite sketch, deputies arrested Rosato on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior on an elderly person, burglary, attempted sexual assault and battery on a person 65 years old or older.
Rosato was held at the Pinellas County Jail until Sept. 2, 1998, when he posted $15,000 bail. Sheriff's officials said he failed to appear for a scheduled hearing Jan. 26, 1999.
Pasha said the victim is now deceased, but the Sheriff's Office is trying to contact family members.
Jackie Alexander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.