Down for the Count

This afternoon, Rico Vecchiarelli stepped out of the sunlight and into the Denver City & County Building, where he was sentenced after pleading guilty to a Class 3 felony securities fraud.

Vecchiarelli is the founder of American Championship Fighting ("The Fight Is On!"), a Denver-based mixed martial arts league that had held its second event just two weeks prior to his sentencing. At the ACF, he goes by the name Rico Vecc.

In exchange for Vecchiarelli's plea, the district attorney dropped five other securities fraud charges and one charge of theft over $15,000. Vecchiarelli, already a convicted felon, was facing up to eight years on the reduced charges, and his eyes teared up as the judge sentenced him to the maximum. But if Vecchiarelli delivers on his promise to pay back the $147,220 in restitution he owes, his sentence will be reduced to four years.

"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry," Vecchiarelli told the judge and the victims who were present in the courtroom. "Your Honor, it was never my intent to hurt anybody or not pay anybody back. It just got out of control. I feel terrible."

Judge Shelley Gilman allowed Vecchiarelli to stand, hug his weeping family and change into a hooded sweatshirt before he was cuffed and led away. On the back of the sweatshirt was the ACF's slogan: "So real, it hurts."

Shortly after the sentencing, the ACF issued an announcement assuring fight fans that the organization will continue to promote shows while Vecchiarelli is down for the count. -- Luke Turf

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun