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Robbery, kidnapping results in prison terms

Two men charged with robbery and kidnapping after attacking a man who owed one of them $100 have been sent to prison.

Ernesto Veraza, 32, of Rochester, was sentenced Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court to concurrent prison terms of 82 months and 45 months.

A jury found him guilty Feb. 25 of two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery and two counts of kidnapping, all felonies; no sentence was pronounced on one count of each charge. He was given credit for 291 days served.

Paul Canini, 30, of Stewartville, was sentenced Tuesday to 33 months; he'd pleaded guilty March 19 to simply robbery, a felony. In exchange for the plea, a felony count of kidnapping was dismissed.

Canini was sentenced to a concurrent term of 19 months in prison for felony fifth-degree drug possession for an unrelated incident that occurred two weeks after the attack. He was given credit for 280 days served.


The men were charged in June, after 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 and 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.

She was not charged.

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