The Bianco trial could have made Paul Carbonaro a hero.
A part-time DA in a county of about 80,000 people, Carbonaro was a former law partner of prominent defense attorney David Weinstein before he became district attorney. And one of his first tasks was to take on the Julie Monson case.
Carbonaro earned a reputation for tough talk. And when he learned Thomas Calescibetta wasn’t telling him everything he knew about the Monson case, Carbonaro had his star witness jailed. But after two polygraph tests, Carbonaro said he believed Calescibetta was telling the truth, and the trial went on.
Carbonaro had made the DA position a hot-button issue during his tenure. He successfully argued before the county Legislature that the part-time job should be full-time. It was a close vote, and many thought the trial against Thomas Bianco would be his chance to prove he was worth the promotion.
Carbonaro brought a parade of witnesses in to testify against Bianco. Several friends testified that Bianco admitted to the killing. Forensic specialists testified about the broken bones and potential causes of death. Eye witnesses described a dark-haired man, driving a car resembling Bianco’s. It seemed like an airtight case. The jury convicted Bianco, and he was sent to prison for life.
The conviction was a major victory for Carbonaro — undoubtedly his biggest victory. And it was seen as the beginning of an even brighter career. Bianco was going to prison for the rest of his life; the sky was the limit for Carbonaro.
Then came the appeals, the accusations and, ultimately, Bianco’s freedom.
The Bianco defense team used everything at its disposal to free Bianco. The star witness, Calescibetta — who so wanted to prove he was being honest that he took two polygraphs to prove it — now said he lied at trial. And another man, Mark Sweeting, said Calescibetta was involved in the killing. The Bianco defense team insisted there were other suspects being withheld from the defense team. Carbonaro denied the allegations.
On Feb. 21, 1992, Judge Patrick Monserrate threw out Bianco’s conviction, ruling Bianco never received a fair trial because prosecutors withheld evidence. Bianco was free for seven months before Monserrate’s decision was overturned by a higher court. But a new appeal was in the works immediately. This time, Monserrate threw out the conviction and indictment, and ordered the case sealed.
Bianco is freed, and Monserrate delivered a scathing condemnation of Carbonaro:
“Carbonaro lied – and he did so over and over,” Monserrate said. “Very few people are good enough at it to get away with it forever.” Monserrate accused Carbonaro of corruption and prosecutorial misconduct.
An investigation by the grievance committee of the Appellate Division dismissed a complaint against Carbonaro. He has never been charged with any crime or censured for his prosecution of Bianco. He continues to practice law in Auburn.