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Defendant suspected of assaulting women drivers weighing settlement offer

A Cotati man accused in a series of nighttime assaults on women driving Sonoma County roads received more time Thursday to consider a settlement offer carrying a more than 15-year prison sentence.

Thomas Boccaleoni, 47, is facing trial in November on allegations he flagged down women on darkened roads in 2008, held them against their will and fondled them.

He's charged with 10 felonies and could be sentenced to 28 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors first made the settlement offer last month and gave him another two weeks to consider it.

"It needs to be clear, this is the last time," prosecutor Tashawn Sanders said in open court.

Boccaleoni, who has been in jail since his 2009 arrest, must make a decision by Sept. 27. The former Marin County chef sat in court in a blue jail uniform and whispered to his lawyer, Paul Lozada.

"He's taking the offer seriously," Lozada said outside court. "He's also taking the defense of the case seriously."

A trial has been set for Nov. 2.

On Thursday, Lozada filed a motion asking the judge to consider sanctions for a laboratory's destruction of DNA samples that were alleged to connect Boccaleoni to the case. Judge Virginia Marcoida could order a range of remedies, from issuing special instructions to a jury to outright dismissal. She'll rule Oct. 12.

Boccaleoni is accused of assaults occurring over a five-month span that terrorized women drivers. Prosecutors said he flashed his lights and told women their cars were suffering mechanical problems, getting them to pull over.

When they did, he's accused of molesting them.


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