After more than two months staring at a minimum of 10 years in prison for an alleged domestic battery incident with a live-in girlfriend, Tampa boxer Nick Iannuzzi was cleared of the charges.
Iannuzzi, 33, was arrested April 15 and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, domestic battery by strangulation and battery for an alleged incident on April 13. The first two charges are third-degree felonies, while the final is a first-degree misdemeanor.
He would have faced a minimum of 10 years in prison.
"I knew what I needed to know in those couple of days while he was in custody; what I needed to have in place to show the state that these charges weren't credible," said attorney Veronica Burianek, who defended Iannuzzi along with Lucas Fleming. "I can tell you in meeting with him that weekend, as someone who's dealt with people involved in the criminal system and seeing how they react - you can tell a lot by a person's reaction, whether they have something to lose, whether they are manufacturing something, whether they are telling a half truth or the whole truth. I pretty much knew from meeting with him that weekend that what was alleged did not happen and that makes us more passionate as defense attorneys to stand behind somebody."
In a Letter of Release to drop each charge, State Attorney Mark Ober wrote: "There is probable cause in this case. However, in order to file criminal charges the state must prove the facts of the case by the much higher standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The state is unable to satisfy that burden in this case."
According to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report, Iannuzzi held his girlfriend at the time by the neck, covering her mouth after punching her inside a Westchase apartment the two shared. The report said he also put a 9 mm Glock 26 to her head and threatened her life.
After the law firm conducted its own investigation, in which they say evidence was uncovered which refutes the claims of Iannuzzi's former girlfriend, the charges were soon dropped.
Burianek and Fleming said Iannuzzi (15-1, 9 KOs) missed opportunities to fight in California and Europe because of the legal issues.
"The second level of this is not just a person in the spotlight, but a fighter in the spotlight," Fleming said. "If you get a fighter in a domestic case, it's almost a strike against you. There's almost a presumption of violence we're finding out with some of these fighters. ... It's almost like you're not going to get a fair shake if an allegation is made about a domestic violence-type situation.
"I think Nick didn't get the full consideration we thought he was due. What we provided and what Veronica was able to provide to the state was pretty easily attainable by law enforcement, but that's our job to fill in the blanks."