Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, January 18, 2013
Property appraiser's investigation adds to Zecca's woes

A Marathon marina manager and former Guardsman facing life in prison if convicted on drug and murder-for-hire charges could be facing more legal woes.

In what could the least of his troubles, the Monroe County Property Appraiser's Office confirmed Thursday it has opened an investigation into whether Dennis Zecca violated Florida's homestead law when he reportedly changed his residency on a voter ID card late last year, said Property Appraiser Scott Russell.

The office received an anonymous tip that Zecca changed his primary resident address from a house on 108 N. Bahama Drive on Duck Key -- which he claims as his homestead exemption -- to 11600 First Ave. in Marathon's Indigo Reef Resort on his voter registration on Nov. 3., Russell said.

"We are doing our due diligence and working to verify the information we have been given," Russell said. "This could be just a slight oversight on his part."

Several real estate websites list the Duck Key home as for sale at $665,400, with Zecca's wife, Mary Zecca, as the property agent.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office assigned another prosecutor in its case against Zecca. U.S. Assistant Attorney Timothy Abraham was assigned to handle "matters related to the criminal forfeiture," documents state.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Annette Castillo said the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment when reached Thursday.

The government intends -- if Zecca is convicted -- to seize any property used in or derived from commission of the alleged crimes, including a 9 mm Beretta pistol the FBI says Zecca gave to an undercover informant to kill Marathon real estate businessman Bruce Schmitt, according to court documents.

Other items listed in the indictment are a .40-caliber Smith Wesson handgun and a Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Benjamin Coats is also prosecuting Zecca and has been the lead prosecutor in the case thus far. Zecca hired Miami attorney William Aaron as his defense lawyer.

Zecca faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted of charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, attempt to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, murder for hire and transfer of a firearm to a convicted felon.

FBI agents allege that Zecca offered a Drug Enforcement Administration informant $20,000 or a kilogram of cocaine -- whichever he preferred -- to kill Schmitt.

Zecca remains at Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island pending trial. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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