WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A former youth basketball coach who tricked three elementary school-age girls into performing sex acts — blaming his behavior in part on Chinese nutritional supplements — was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in prison.
Wearing a green blazer, blue jeans, Adidas shoes, and a blue shirt, Richard Dinizo, 59, of Cortlandt, N.Y., apologized repeatedly before Judge Susan Cacace in Westchester County Court in White Plains.
Cacace then dryly handed down her sentence, which was the maximum.
"Whatever you used to be prior to this day you are no longer," Cacace said. "Now you are just a sex offender."
Prosecutors said that Dinizo, who coached girls basketball for nearly two decades, convinced the girls to perform sex acts for more than two years, at times filming them with multiple cameras. Dinizo met some of them through his daughter, including at his young daughter's birthday party.
None of the victims — two 7-year-olds and a 10-year-old — were players that Dinizo coached. Officials said he convinced the girls they were playing a "tasting game" at his home, having them wear a mask that covered their eyes and prevented them from being aware of the sex acts.
Dinizo pleaded guilty to three counts of predatory sexual assault of a child in December.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that Dinizo's acts went "way beyond the bounds" of even the acts of ordinary sex offenders they come across, and that his explanations for his crimes — libido driven by the herbal supplement and depression — were grossly inadequate.
But Joseph Abinanti, Dinizo's lawyer, called Dinizo's behavior an "aberration."
"I'm still puzzled by this short period of bizarre behavior," Abinanti said, before conceding that Dinizo would likely never be a free man again. "Some demon must have gotten into his brain or his world."
Dinizo still faces a federal child pornography case, which is pending. Prosecutors said that Dinizo's family, including his daughter and former wife, no longer speak to him.
"He's going to spend the rest of his life in jail," Abinanti said. "There's no question about it."
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