WILKES-BARRE – It’s up to a Luzerne County judge to decide whether Helen Galli will face prison time after being convicted Thursday of poisoning her son’s ex-girlfriend.
But, Judge Fred Pierantoni will receive a pre-sentence report about Galli, 81, which will likely include an arson conviction and a pending retail theft charge that he’ll take into consideration.
Galli faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on an aggravated assault charge she would found guilty of Thursday. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 5.
In 1991, Galli pleaded guilty to persuading two granddaughters to start a fire on May 7, 1990, at the Plains Township residence of her daughter-in-law, Ruth Ann Galli. Ruth Ann Galli was married to her son, Frank.
Helen Galli was accused of supplying the girls with kerosene used to start the fire. She was sentenced in November 1991 to four years house arrest and 10 years probation.
When Ruth Ann Galli was interviewed by police, according to court papers, she said the motive for the crime was Helen Galli wanted to control her family and get money from her pension.
Ruth Ann Galli also said Helen Galli gave her daughters sleeping pills and told them to crush up the pills and put the pills in the food they ate.
Assistant District Attorney Frank McCabe tried to have the arson case presented during Helen Galli’s poisoning trial, but a judge ultimately ruled the jury could not hear that evidence.
McCabe argued the poisoning case had a similar plan, scheme or design as the arson case because Helen Galli “is trying to harm or kill one of her son’s paramours.”
McCabe also argued that Helen Galli committed both crimes for the same reason: for money and to protect her family “by any means necessary from people who she deems as threats.”
Galli faces another jury trial on Nov. 4 on a retail theft charge, according to court documents.
In that case, police say in May 2010, she allegedly entered the Price Chopper in Wyoming and tried to take a package of meat valued at $23.24.
She is represented in that case by attorney Stephen Menn. She faces a maximum of seven years in prison on the felony retail theft charge if convicted.