Ricky Lee Winters

Ricky Lee Winters wasn’t much more than a small-time drug dealer with a stay or two in jail under his belt when Thomas Bianco was first sent to prison. But in 1990, he was sent to prison for four to 12 years for selling cocaine to an undercover policeman.

Winters did all he could to keep his freedom. He was even granted a one-week reprieve from sentencing, after he tried withdrawing his guilty plea, claiming he had witnesses who would testify that he hadn’t sold those drugs after all. The witnesses didn’t back up his story.

By November 1991, Thomas Bianco’s defense team was winning points in the appeals process — enough that a hearing was held to determine whether Bianco deserved a new trial based on the claim that the prosecution had withheld evidence.

That hearing included Mark Sweeting‘s testimony implicating Thomas Calescibetta, John Corning and James Vasile in Julie Monson’s death.

Sweeting claimed he heard the story from Calescibetta, the star witness in the trial against Bianco. Sweeting said he and Calescibetta were in jail at the time; Calescibetta had been charged with perjury — accused of lying to the grand jury investigating the Monson case. Besides the fact that Sweeting and Calescibetta were in jail at the same time, Sweeting’s story was flimsy: He was a career criminal with a rap sheet full of arrests, and very little to back up his claims.

Ricky Winters was that very little.

Winters claimed in court that he overheard the conversation Sweeting described. Winters was serving time in June 1985 for perjury.

Paul Carbonaro, defending Bianco’s conviction, said Winters was lying.

“It’s pure, unadulterated garbage,” Carbonaro said. “But it’s what I would expect from a low-life like Ricky Winters.”

Carbonaro also claimed Winters sought revenge against Judge Peter Corning, father of John Corning, who had sent Winters to prison a year earlier.

Winters is currently incarcerated in a federal prison..