A former Manhattan restaurant owner charged with more than two dozen sex crimes now looks to a February sentencing after a Wednesday court appearance in Riley County District Court.
63-year-old Robert Iacobellis is accused of numerous counts of sexual assault and rape by four different people, three of whom were minors at the time. Iacobellis, the longtime owner of Bob’s Diner formerly on 3rd Street, was arrested on the charges in August of 2019.
Iacobellis was set to be sentenced in August, having arranged an Alford plea deal with the prosecution in April 2022 – at the time represented by attorneys Brenda Jordan and Lora Ingels, his second legal team since being arrested. In August of 2022 he indicated his desire to dismiss that legal team and was in September appointed his current attorney, Julie Effenbeck, who began the process to withdraw from the Alford plea deal as desired by Iacobellis.
Under an Alford plea, a defendant formally pleads guilty while refusing to assert either guilt or innocence — in acceptance that evidence exists that would likely result in their conviction. As part of the deal with Riley County prosecutors, Iacobellis would plead guilty and as a result 22 of the charges facing Iacobellis were to be dismissed.
Iacobellis as represented by Effenbeck had planned to argue that illness and lingering effects of COVID-19 played a role in his agreeing to the deal from which he hoped to withdraw – which Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson opposed in court filings.
After a brief delay to the start of Wednesday’s proceedings, Effenbeck informed Judge Kendra Lewison that they would withdraw the motion to withdraw from the plea. Iacobellis acknowledged he understood and agreed with the decision, that the decision was his alone and that he was well enough to make in sound mind.
Lewison accepted the withdrawal, and ordered Iacobellis to appear in-person for sentencing on February 24 at 2 p.m.