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Memphis businessman Giannini, out on bond, charged with aggravated rape

By Timberly Moore, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 26--Memphis businessman Mark Giannini was arrested late Wednesday on aggravated rape charges, marking the second time this week he has been placed in police handcuffs.

Giannini, 48, was also arrested Monday after a raid on his Eads home in which authorities found drugs, weapons and cash. Authorities charged him with possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell and possession of firearms during the commission of a felony.

Giannini was out on a $50,000 bond from the first arrest when he was taken into custody again Wednesday night on the rape charge. His bond on that arrest was originally set at $1 million, but Judge Karen Massey lowered it to $150,000 Thursday morning. Giannini made that bond Thursday afternoon.

Giannini, a well-known business and civic leader, is co-founder of the information technology company Service Assurance. According the latest affidavit, Giannini is accused of assaulting a 26-year-old woman who was looking for extra employment. A friend of the woman put her in touch with Giannini, who then showed up at her workplace in a "red fancy sport car." He told her he needed someone to clean his house and help with office work.

The woman contacted Giannini on June 19, the affidavit said, asking if the job was still available. Giannini then picked her up in a silver Jaguar and took her to his home, officials said.

After they went inside, the woman began feeling "uncomfortable" and wanted to leave, the affidavit said. Giannini fixed her a drink, then made her drink it, officials said. She said she wanted to leave, but Giannini grabbed her and kissed her, officials said. He then raped her over the next three hours, according to the affidavit.

"Suspect Mark told victim that this was her job interview," according to the affidavit.

The victim said she doesn't know how she got back to the motel where she was staying with her family. She also gave detectives details about the house and where the assault allegedly occurred. Detectives found computers, cameras and "numerous sexual-related paraphernalia," the affidavit said.

"Mr. Giannini denies all the charges," said one of his attorneys, Leslie Ballin.

Massey lowered the bond after hearing arguments from special victims prosecutor Carrie Shelton and Giannini's two lawyers, Ballin and Steve Farese. about the possibility of Giannini being a flight risk.

When Giannini was arrested Monday, deputies found $16,590 in cash, 24 guns and various drugs, including Xanax, Viagra and hydrocodone. When they searched Giannini, they found a passport, $1,586 in cash, more Viagra and an expired DeSoto County Sheriff's ID and badge.

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Desoto County Sheriff's spokesman Dick Hackett said Giannini didn't get the badge and ID from Sheriff Bill Rasco, who was first elected in 2007 and won his second-term in 2011.

" ... It was the practice of previous administrations to give badges to citizens. When Sheriff Rasco came in, it was clear that it was a substantial liability on the county and that practice was discontinued," Hackett said.

Around 8 a.m. Monday, Shelby County Sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at Giannini's home in the 1100 block of Old Meadow in Eads.

After deputies were denied entrance through an intercom system, they forced their way into the house and found wet footprints leading into the woods.

A man identifying himself as Giannini emerged about an hour later and surrendered. According to an affidavit he was, "sweating profusely and had fresh cuts and scratches on his legs."

In 2012, All Covered, a division of Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA, purchased Service Assurance, which Giannini co-founded in 1989.

According to a website for his book, "The Tallest Pygmy," Giannini is a graduate of Christian Brothers University. He's been a board member for several local organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis, Memphis Botanic Gardens and the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce.

The Memphis Business Journal named him as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in 1996 and Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997, his website said.

Bill Giannini, former chairman of the Shelby County Election Commission and current assistant commissioner for the state's Department of Commerce and Insurance, said Thursday that Mark Giannini is not related to him.

___

(c)2014 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

Visit The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) at www.commercialappeal.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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