Pereira, Luiz Heleno

Luiz Heleno Pereira

A former Allegheny College administrator convicted last year on charges for molesting an 11-year-old boy won't get a new trial — he's entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge which drops his required sex offender registration.

Luiz Heleon Pereira was scheduled to have an evidentiary hearing Tuesday in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas to determine whether he should be granted a new trial. Instead, Pereira pleaded guilty Tuesday before President Judge Anthony J. Vardaro to a first-degree misdemeanor count of corruption of minors.

Pereira, 55, of Buffalo, N.Y., was Allegheny College’s associate director of admissions when Meadville Police Department arrested him Jan. 24, 2018. Pereira was Allegheny’s associate director of admissions from July 2017 until Jan. 24, 2018, when he was fired by the college following his arrest.

Pereira had been seeking a new trial in county court after a jury convicted him in a September 2018 trial. The jury convicted Pereira on two of four counts for sexually groping an 11-year-old boy at a North Main Street home in Meadville on Oct. 3, 2017. 

The trial jury found Pereira guilty of a third-degree felony count of unlawful contact with a minor — sexual offenses and a first-degree misdemeanor count of corruption of minors for sexually touching the 11-year-old boy through the child’s clothes. The jury also acquitted Pereira on a misdemeanor count of indecent assault on a person less than age 13 and a summary count of harassment.

In December 2018, Vardaro sentenced Pereria to a total of 12 months probation — 12 months probation for the unlawful contact with a minor count and 12 months probation for the corruption of minors count with both probationary sentences to run at the same time.

Under Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines due to Pereira’s lack of a prior record, Pereira’s standard range sentence was three to 12 months in jail on the unlawful contact charge — sexual offenses and probation to three months in jail on the corruption of minors count.

But with Pereira's felony unlawful contact with a minor — sexual offenses conviction, Pereira was required to register as a sexual offender for 25 years.

At a hearing before Vardaro in May of this year, James DePasquale, Pereira’s new defense attorney, argued for a new hearing for Pereira.

DePasquale said Pereira's previous defense attorney failed to call any of eight character witnesses to testify on Pereira’s behalf. DePasquale said Pereira’s previous defense attorney also failed to call a witness who would have refuted the prosecution’s witnesses who claimed Pereira was intoxicated the night of the incident.

In late August, Vardaro issued a ruling granting Pereira an evidentiary hearing to determine if a new trial was warranted with the hearing scheduled Tuesday. 

As Tuesday's hearing started, DePasquale and Paula DiGiacomo, first assistant district attorney for Crawford County, told Vardaro a plea deal had been reached in the case.

By the DA's Office not opposing the evidentiary hearing and also agreeing Pereira should have a new trial, Pereira would plead guilty to the first-degree misdemeanor count of corruption of minors, the attorneys told the court.

The maximum penalty on the corruption of minors charge is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"I can tell you at this juncture we are looking forward to sentencing," DePasqule told the Tribune following Pereira's 15-minute court hearing and plea. "My client no longer has a felony, nor does he have to register (as a sex offender) for Megan's Law and we're going to get prepared for sentencing on Oct. 22."

DePasquale declined any additional comment on the case.

DiGiacomo also declined to comment on the case.

Pereira remains free on $15,000 bond pending his sentencing before Vardaro Oct. 22. 

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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