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The Detroit News
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Mike Martindale / The Detroit News PONTIAC — A Troy man, expected to seek an insanity defense this week in an April 2007 office shooting which left one worker dead and two others wounded, repeatedly evaded any questions regarding the incident in a court-ordered deposition for a civil lawsuit earlier this year.
Anthony LaCalamita III, 39, of Troy, is to go on trial Monday in Oakland Circuit Court for first-degree premeditated murder of receptionist Madeline Kafoury and assault with intent to murder partners Paul Riva and Alan Steinberg in the incident at the Long Lake Road offices of Gordon Advisors in Troy, where he had been fired from his accountant job.
Defense attorney Jerome Fenton has said he will seek a defense of insanity for LaCalamita, who eyewitnesses — including Riva and Steinberg — will testify was the man who calmly walked into the building and began selectively pulling the trigger on a 12-gauge shotgun. Investigators believe LaCalamita, angry at being fired for his job, purchased a Remington pump-action shotgun and two days later, on Monday April 9, 2007, went to the office and started shooting.
Psychiatrists who have examined LaCalamita — for both the defense and prosecution — are expected to testify regarding his state of mind. LaCalamita, who holds undergraduate and masters degrees in theology and accounting, has undergone several forensic examinations since arrested that day and been found competent to aid in his own defense.
“He was very goal-directed in his actions, before, during and after the shootings,” said assistant Oakland County prosecuting attorney Rob Novy. “We are confident that he we will be found responsible for his actions.”
LaCalamita is neither required nor expected to take the witness stand during the trial in Judge Rudy Nichols’ courtroom. But if a February 2008 deposition reviewed by The News is any indication, jurors would learn little from his testimony regarding what might have been going on in his mind at the time. His wife, Michele Valentine Orlando, who cannot be forced to testify against him, also was quizzed by attorneys, and court records reveal she believes one of the victims was in a position to prevent the shooting months earlier.
LaCalamita was questioned on Feb. 5, 2008, by attorneys for the family of Kafoury, who has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against LaCalamita.
During the 40-minute deposition, LaCalamita reluctantly answered only a handful of nearly 100 questions put to him by attorneys. While he freely provided his name, age, date of birth, and the names of his parents and brother, he side-stepped all questions regarding events of April 2007.
When asked, LaCalamita gave his occupation, name of former employer and that he had been terminated, he said he either did not know or refused to provide answers to questions regarding his employment, including his salary, duties, and years of employment. He also would not discuss any questions regarding his psychiatric history, his former co-workers, including alleged victims, or the purchase of the shotgun.
Besides a simple “I don’t know,” LaCalamita’s non-responses — some recommended by his attorneys present — included phrases like “If I do know, I’m not going to tell you,” “I may know or I may not know,” and “I may have or may not have.”
Persons ordered to appear for depositions are sworn under oath to provide truthful answers to questions or face possible perjury charges. Unless there is a specific objection placed on the record — such as taking the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, a person is required to answer questions, if only by a “yes” “no” or that they can’t recall the correct answer.
A related deposition taken from LaCalamita’s wife, Michele Valentine Orlando, on Feb. 22, 2008, was more illuminating.
In her deposition, Orlando addressed several previously reported aspects of LaCalamita’s history, including how he had been hospitalized for depression and suicide attempts, how he moved out because of marital problems, had stopped taking his medication a few weeks before the April 2007 incident, and made a tearful “goodbye” call to before the shooting.
The couple, who married in August 1998, separated in March 21, 2007, because of marital problems and he moved out of their home in Novi.
Orlando said her husband had been diagnosed as bipolar in August 2004 and had seen several psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers for personal mental problems including activities of a sexual nature: “He was seeing prostitutes without paying,” she testified.
LaCalamita told her he had a sexual addiction and had been seeing prostitutes before they were married, back into his early 20s, which he had hid from family, friends and from priests while attending seminaries in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
LaCalamita had a business degree but also studied to become a priest.
She said she felt LaCalamita’s activities, which included getting beaten unconscious by pimps, led to him moving out of their house. They remain married but live in different locations.
“I’m concerned that if they beat him up unconscious, they would have the address of where he resided … And so I was concerned what if they see the address and try to come in the house. They would have the house key,” she testified.
LaCalamita had been prescribed several mood disorder medications, including lithium, Cymbalta, and prozadone [sic](trazodone), which were found filled and unused at his apartment. She said in a discussion in March, he told her he decided to quit the drugs “cold turkey.”
“He’s done with them. He’s sick of them, sick of the drugs,” she said in her deposition. “Sick of the side effects. Meaning that, you know, side effects of Lithium he felt, you know, very bloated …”
Orlando also told how in October 2006 — six months before the shooting — LaCalamita got into trouble with a prostitute and her pimp when he attempted to pay in photocopied $20 bills. The pimp showed up at Gordon Advisors and threatened her husband and one of the partners, Alan Steinberg, met the pimp in the parking lot and “actually paid the pimp bill and swept it under the table.”
She said after LaCalamita told her what happened she wrote a $200 check to Steinberg.
“I personally believe that Mr. Steinberg should have fired Anthony then. I just, you know, that was inappropriate. I was surprised that that did not happen. But — and maybe we wouldn’t all be sitting her right now if that would have happened.
“I’m just speaking morally and ethically from my own personal moral ethics. I mean, you know, that fact that an employer pays, that’s just something from a John Grisham novel. I just can’t even believe that.”
She said she talked to Steinberg at least twice about her husband during his hospitalization regarding his mental illness, but said Steinberg “really didn’t want to hear about it.”
Orlando said her husband was never violent with her and never expressed any anger or violent tendencies towards Gordon Advisors, where she said he loved his job.
She said she visited him on Saturday, April 7, two days after he had been fired, and saw the shotgun in his Troy apartment which upset her because he had never owned a firearm. She said she was concerned for own safety because “Anthony was very unpredictable. Especially not being on his medication and bipolar.”
Orlando said she didn’t ask him why he bought the shotgun but reported seeing it to both her and his therapists, LaCalamita’s brother and their priest.
“I never thought he would ever use it on any — really anybody but himself, honestly, period. He’s never made any statements about, you know, wanting to kill anybody. Never. I knew that he wanted to hurt a pimp. That was really — I really thought the gun was either to kill himself or to perhaps for protection of his behavior. Because he was doing this dangerous behavior of seeing prostitutes and having been beat up; by a pimp.”
Orlando said LaCalamita was twice involuntarily committed to hospitals for psychiatric evaluations in August 2004 and December 2006.
She said he attempted suicide in October 2001, July 2003 and November 2006, each time with over-the-counter sleeping pills.
Orland said LaCalamita has also been diagnosed with a variety of psychiatric problems, including narcissistic personality disorder; obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and sociopathic tendencies.
She said that in 2005, she sent him to the treatment center in Texas for his sexual addiction at a cost of more than $50,000.
LaCalamita had an appointment with his psychologist on the morning of Monday April 9 but it was a meeting that never took place. Instead, Orlando she received a final disturbing call from her husband, in which he was crying and hung up on her. She would not discuss the specifics of the conversation but did relay what happened next.
“That’s when I called 911. I called Troy police. Because, I said, he has a gun. I am concerned for his life. Here is his apartment. Please. I’m scared that he’s going to take his own life. And I was on hold. They were getting flooded with phone calls, I didn’t know, and I was disconnected by them.”
She called his psychologist, some relatives and their priest and then tried Troy police again.
“They said ‘Ma’am, there’s been an incident.’ And they wouldn’t tell me what the incident was. (They) said, ‘We’re looking for your husband,’ and so forth. ‘Can you describe to me his car,’ and so on …”
A few hours later, LaCalamita was spotted driving at speeds reaching 120 miles an hour north on Interstate 75, pulled over and placed under arrest. The shotgun was in the car with him.
You can reach Mike Martindale at (248) 647-7226 or email@example.com.