9 March 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Michael S. Clemens, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Barry E. Krischer, State Attorney for Palm Beach County, announced today that defendant, Michael A. Koblan, Jr., 54, of Pt. Pleasant, New Jersey, was convicted by a federal jury in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, after a three (3) week trial before United States District Court Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley, on all counts of the Indictment in connection with the November 1998 murders of Christopher Benedetto and Janette Piro, a married couple who lived on Singer Island in Riviera Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida. Benedetto and Piro were last seen or heard from on November 11, 1998. Piro’s frozen corpse was later discovered stuffed into a small freezer in her garage at 1160 Dolphin Drive on Singer Island, on November 23, 1998. Benedetto’s body was never found.
After an extensive law enforcement investigation, a federal grand jury sitting in West Palm Beach, Florida, returned a five (5) count Indictment on June 26, 2003, against Koblan. Today’s verdict resulted in Koblan’s conviction on one (1) count of murdering Christopher Benedetto within the special maritime and admiralty jurisdiction of the United States and one (1) count of interstate stalking relating to the murder of Janette Piro. The jury also convicted Koblan of one (1) count of obstructing justice by murdering Janette Piro to prevent her communication of information to law enforcement. In addition, the jury convicted Koblan of one (1) count of conspiring with another person to hinder the communication of information to law enforcement in connection with the investigation into the murders of Benedetto and Piro, and one (1) count of interstate transportation of stolen jewelry from Florida to New York, between November, 1998 and December, 1998. The jewelry included the engagement ring taken from the body of Jeanette Piro.
A summary of the counts, offenses, and maximum statutory terms of imprisonment and fines is set forth below:
Count Charge Statute Max Penalty
1 Murder of Chris Benedetto within 18 U.S.C. §§ 1111, 7 Life imprisonment &
special maritime and admiralty $250,000 fine
2 Interstate stalking resulting in 18 U.S.C. §§ 2261A, Life imprisonment &
death of Janette Piro 2261(b)(1) $250,000 fine
3 Murder of Janette Piro to prevent 18 U.S.C.§§
communication of information to 1512(a)(1)(C), Life imprisonment &
law enforcement 1512(a)(2)(A) $250,000 fine
4 Conspiracy to mislead to hinder, 18 U.S.C. §§
prevent, and delay communication 1512(b)(3), 371 5 years’ imprisonment &
of information to law enforcement $250,000 fine
5 Interstate transportation of stolen 18 U.S.C. § 2314 10 years’ imprisonment
property, valued in excess of $5,000 & $250,000 fine
Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, and the Riviera Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steve Carlton and John S. Kastrenakes.