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Greenville attorney arrested, charged in church scare


Frank Cassiano Jr.


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Pitt County attorney wearing a bulletproof vest who entered a Greenville church with a .38 caliber revolver has been arrested and charged, Greenville police said on Wednesday.

Greenville police said Frank Cassiano Jr., 62, of 1205 E. Fifth St., Ayden, was arrested and booked into the Pitt County Detention Center on June 18.

He was charged with carrying a concealed handgun after detectives determined his permit had expired. He since has posted a $1,000 bond.

Cassiano entered a building on the campus of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 107 Louis St., after 11 a.m. on Jun. 11.

Upon entering the church, he spoke to the Rector, John Porter-Acee, according to Greenville Police Department Chief Mark Holtzman.

Cassiano  told Porter-Acee he had a gun and the vest, and that a woman outside had a gun, and that they were waiting to meet someone, Holtzman said.

That woman has been identified as 58-year-old Diane Casper Smith of 307 Faremont Crossing Circle, Apt. G, Ayden.

Smith waited in the church parking lot in a Nissan Versa while Cassiano walked around inside the church. Smith later left the scene.

The church secretary also left the campus.

Meanwhile, Porter-Acee locked himself in his office and called 911, Holtzman said.

When police arrived, Cassiano voluntarily surrendered to police.

Smith’s car was pulled over a short time later. 

Smith was arrested and charged on June 12 for carrying a concealed gun for which she did not have a permit. She was booked in the Pitt County Detention Center and given a $500 bond. She has since been released.

Initially, Greenville police said that no one had been arrested in the incident but department spokeswoman Kristen Hunter said detectives later discovered the pair’s lack of valid concealed-carry permits.

After the incident, Smith and Cassiano were detained and Cassianio was sent to a hospital for a mental evaluation.

In a news release issued the afternoon of the incident, the department said Cassiano and Smith were the targets of scammers and “felt compelled to meet an unknown person at the church.”

Cassiano feared for his safety due to the circumstances, and he and his friend armed themselves as a precaution, the release said.

No one was injured and the two never threatened anyone, Hunter said.

Cassiano and Smith are expected to appear in court on July 25.