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Case stalls after defendant skips town

Jujitsu instructor faced three-year prison term

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Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 4:13 pm

Former Half Moon Bay jujitsu instructor Joao Pierini was supposed to face three years in prison after illegally returning to the United States in violation of his parole. The only problem, prosecutors say, is that he has apparently left the country and flown back to Brazil.

Pierini is a registered sex offender who pleaded no contest in a 2007 child molestation case. Qualified as a third-degree black belt, he had previously taught martial-arts classes at the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School in Half Moon Bay.

Pierini’s run-in with the law started in 2006 after he invited three underage teenage boys to drink beer at his studio. He then reportedly gave each boy inappropriate massages. The next day the boys talked about what happened and reported it to one of the boys’ fathers. The incident was reported to the Half Moon Bay Police, who later arrested Pierini.

Pierini was released on parole after one year of a three-year sentence. Upon being released, he was ordered to leave the United States and not return for the duration of his parole term. He was arrested two years later when he was caught back in the United States.

He was initially sentenced for the parole violation, but he apparently appealed the case while living abroad in Brazil. An appeals judge subsequently found an unspecified error and ordered a San Mateo County Superior Court judge to sentence him a second time.

But this was impossible, because by this time, Pierini was already living in Brazil and beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement, prosecutors say.

Pierini would be penalized if he ever returned to the country, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, but otherwise he would not be pursued in Brazil.

“The case is in abeyance. Nothing will happen unless he’s arrested again,” he said.

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