Tricia Vacanti Obituary – Death, The woman who was said to have been responsible for providing alcohol and marijuana to at least three young women, who then claimed that they were sexually assaulted in her home, which was known as the “Lewiston Party House” among the teenagers in the surrounding area, has passed away. At best, the circumstances surrounding Tricia Vacanti’s passing are still shrouded in mystery.
When the case against Vacanti, her husband, and a neighbor is scheduled to return to Lewiston Town Court on August 2, the prosecutors from Niagara County, who had originally charged Vacanti, 51, with 41 counts of unlawfully dealing with a minor and endangering the welfare of a child, have indicated that they will seek details about her demise at that time.
District Attorney Brian Seaman stated that he had “heard that she has passed,” but that his office had not been officially notified of Vacanti’s death. Vacanti’s death was not officially notified to his office. Seaman stated that his office would ask for the circumstances surrounding Vacanti’s passing to be “explained” in the upcoming proceeding that will take place in front of Town Court Justice Hugh Gee.
This newspaper learned through a Freedom of Information Act request that on July 3, at 2:36 p.m., Lewiston police were called to the home that Vacanti shared with her husband, Gary Sullo, at 620 Mountain View Drive. Sullo was the homeowner of the home. The call came in as a “assist EMTs” call, according to the Lewiston police department.
When officers arrived at the residence, they saw Vacanti “being loaded into an ambulance,” according to a captain with the Lewiston police department. After the captain reported that Vacanti “was alert and talking to the EMTs,” the patient was taken to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital for further evaluation.
The Lewiston police department stated that they were informed that Vacanti “had passed away” “a couple of days later.” For the time being, it is unknown what transpired after Vacanti was removed from her house by ambulance and transported to a medical facility.
It is unknown if Vacanti ever went to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital or if she was even treated there if she did go there. Laura Sweney-Goodlander, the Niagara County Coroner, who reportedly handled the processing of Vacanti’s death, refused to provide any information to the press.
When questioned by a reporter about the circumstances surrounding Vacanti’s passing, Sweney-Goodlander responded that the information was “none of your business.” She suggested that the reporter get in touch with Niagara County Attorney Claude A. Joerg in order to continue their conversation about the Vacanti case.
At least one local law enforcement agency has voiced their concern over reports that Sweney-Goodlander did not require an autopsy to be performed on Vacanti. Sweney-Goodlander declined to comment further on her decision to have an autopsy performed.
There was no trace of Vacanti’s passing to be found in any of the available obituary databases when they were searched. It was confirmed that Vacanti had passed away after having a conversation with a person who was present at her funeral.
The individual referred to the funeral as being “very sad,” but they declined to discuss any other aspects of Vacanti’s passing. An email conversation with Vacanti’s defense attorney, Brian Melber, did not result in the disclosure of any pertinent information regarding the demise of his client. Melber’s response to a reporter’s question, which asked if Vacanti was deceased, when she died, and the circumstances surrounding her passing, was to say only that he was “still involved” in her pending criminal case. The reporter’s question asked if Vacanti was deceased, when she died, and the circumstances surrounding her passing.
In a subsequent email, Melber was directly questioned about whether or not his client had passed away; however, he did not respond. The response given by the Lewiston Town Clerk in response to a Freedom of Information request for a copy of Vacanti’s death certificate was “Death certificates are not public records.” This caused the request to be denied. In the years leading up to 1990, the state of New York considered death certificates to be public records.
However, in that year, Section 4174 of the New York State Public Health Law was amended to make death certificates confidential documents that could only be disclosed in response to a court order or to the surviving spouse of the deceased.
In response to the Gazette’s questions, a number of additional sources that might have had information regarding Vacanti’s passing either declined to comment or did not respond. In 2019, Vacanti and Sullo, 57, were charged with a combined total of 19 counts of unlawfully dealing with a minor and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the teen parties that took place at their home. These charges stem from the investigation into the teen parties. Vacanti was charged with an additional 22 counts of endangering and unlawful dealing in January 2020, and Sullo was charged with an additional eight counts of the same allegations. These charges were brought against them by prosecutors in Niagara County.
Jessica Long, age 43, is a friend of the family who has been charged with one count each of unlawfully dealing with a minor and endangering the welfare of a child. Cases had been brought against the adults in conjunction with a criminal indictment that had been handed down against Christopher Belter, Vacanti’s son. Belter entered a guilty plea in June 2019 to felony charges of third-degree rape and attempted first-degree sexual abuse as well as two misdemeanor charges of second-degree sexual abuse in connection with encounters with four teenaged girls that took place during parties held at the family’s home in 2017 and 2018. The parties took place in 2017 and 2018.
Belter was given a sentence of eight years of probation in November 2021 by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who has since retired from the Niagara County Court. Murphy stated that he had “agonized” and then prayed for guidance on how to sentence Belter, and in the end, he came to the conclusion that sending Belter to prison “would be inappropriate. After another month had passed, in the month of December 2021, Murphy ranked Belter as a Level 3 sexual offender. The most severe classification, level 3, designates an individual as a “sexual predator” under the law. In addition to that, Belter was classified as a sexually violent offender.
Vacanti is also named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit that was brought against her by the parents of one of her son’s victims. The lawsuit alleges that Vacanti “groomed” the victim’s daughter prior to the occurrence of the alleged sexual assault. Before the victim, who is only identified in the court documents as “M.M.,” was assaulted on August 2, 2018, the lawsuit claims that Vacanti built a relationship with her “with the intention of grooming (her)” and other girls “to be prey for her predator son.”