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Jury convicts Rochester man of robbery, kidnapping

A man charged with robbery and kidnapping after attacking a man who owed him $100 has been convicted of multiple felonies.

A jury found Ernesto Veraza, 32, of Rochester, guilty of two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery and two counts of kidnapping; the verdict was handed down Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court.

Sentencing has been set for April 8.

The charges stem from an incident June 21, when deputies responded to the intersection of 37th Street and 30th Avenue southeast, where they found a naked man lying in the tall grass of the north ditch.

The man, who the complaint says was visibly upset and crying, told officers he'd called a female friend for a ride home from work; instead, Veraza another man, Paul Canini, came to pick him up.


The victim said he'd known Veraza since 2008, and owed him $100. The man told deputies he'd never met Canini before.

According to the complaint, the men drove with the victim out into the country, refusing to answer his questions about where they were going. At the intersection, Veraza ordered the man out of the car and told him to take off his clothes; as he pulled his shirt off, the report says, Veraza punched the man in the ear, knocking him into the ditch. The man said he and Canini wrestled briefly in the ditch before the victim made his way back onto the road.

Veraza again ordered the man to strip, the report says, as Canini told him "this is a lesson you need to learn." Veraza and Canini then left the scene.

Deputies took the victim home; the female friend was there, according to the complaint, but claimed she didn't know the suspects were going to do anything to the man. The woman said she'd given Veraza and Canini a ride to an apartment on 16th Street Southeast.

Canini has pleaded not guilty to one count each of kidnapping and aggravated robbery, both felonies. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 27, with a jury trial set for March 31.

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