Nelson Iván Serrano Sáenz
(born September 15, 1938) is a former Ecuadorian businessman and
nationalized US-citizen (since 1971) who was convicted of murdering
Frank Dosso, Diane Patisso, George Patisso, and George Gonsalves in
1997 in Bartow, Florida. A jury recommended the death penalty for
Serrano in October 2006 after he was convicted of the murders. On June
26, 2007, Judge Susan Roberts sentenced him to death by lethal
On the December 3, 1997, Frank Dosso, Diane Patisso,
George Patisso, and George Gonsalves were found shot execution style
at the Erie Manufacturing plant in Bartow. Diane Patisso, a young
state prosecutor, had gone to pick up her brother Frank and her
husband George at the factory that evening, and prosecutors say she
was murdered to prevent her from identifying the killer.
Although there was no clear physical evidence at
the scene to link anyone to the crime, relatives of the victims
immediately suspected Nelson Serrano, another partner who had been in
a bitter dispute with the others. Serrano was a partner, along with
Dosso and Gonsalves, in two sister companies, Erie Manufacturing and
Garment Conveyor Systems. The businesses had made the three very
wealthy men, but bitter fights with Serrano over money began to tear
them apart. Dosso and Gonsalves accused Serrano of graft, then theft,
and eventually forced him out.
Serrano claimed the he was 500 miles away on a
business trip in Atlanta, Georgia when the killings occurred. But
prosecutors convinced the jury that Serrano had flown back to Florida
under assumed names to commit the crimes.
During the trial Serrano's lawyers fought for a
mistrial, claiming that that Serrano was illegally deported from
Ecuador to the United States. Serrano is an Ecuadorian citizen by
birth and a naturalized US Citizen.
He was arrested in Ecuador and deported back to the
U.S. Documents related to his fact were presented during trial and
were confirmed by the Ecuadorian Ombudsman through his testimony.
However, after examining these documents, Roberts denied the defense
motion, finding no cause to dismiss the case based on these facts. The
U.S. State Department has not responded to a protest in April 2009 by
the current Ecuadorian Government that Serrano was illegally
extradited. Prosecutors say that Serrano was not extradited, however,
but deported back to the U.S., where he was a citizen.
Serrano's supporters claim that he was beaten and
kept in a dog kennel at the airport after his arrest in Ecuador.
However, police say that Serrano was kept in an office of the canine
police unit at the airport and slept on a couch. Policy say Serrano
received a minor injury from a fall as he attempted to escape as he
boarded the plane. A flight attendant was witness to this incident.
During the trial, Roberts also denied a defense
motion for a change of venue despite the fact that one of the victims,
Diane Patisso, was an Assistant State Attorney who worked in the same
Businessman sentenced to
death in Florida for quadruple office murder
June 26, 2007
BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — A former
Ecuadorean businessman was sentenced to death Tuesday for killing
four people in a business dispute, despite pleas from his native
country to spare his life.
Nelson Ivan Serrano,
68, was convicted last year on four counts of first-degree murder
for the Dec. 3, 1997, shootings of George Gonsalves, 69; Frank Dosso,
35; Diane Patisso, 28; and George Patisso Jr., 26.
Serrano, Gonsalves and Dosso's father were
business partners at a garment conveyor factory until a dispute over
finances led to Serrano's firing as company president in 1997.
Serrano was arrested in September 2002 in his
He denied involvement in the killings, insisting
he was in Atlanta on business at the time. Defense lawyers said
there was no physical evidence connecting Serrano to the slayings
and no proof he was in Polk County the night of the slayings.
In October, the jury that convicted Serrano
recommended he be sentenced to death by a 9-3 vote.
Fla. businessman convicted
of killing his former partner, three others in company office
Oct. 12, 2006
After five weeks of testimony, a Florida jury
took less than six hours Wednesday to find businessman Nelson
Serrano guilty of killing four people in the offices of the company
where he once served as president.
Polk County prosecutors argued that Serrano
gunned down his former partner, George Gonsalves, on Dec. 3, 1997,
in retaliation for being ousted from Erie Manufacturing and Garment
Conveyor Systems in June that year.
They said Serrano shot to death the three other
victims, Frank Dosso and Diane and George Patisso, to eliminate
witnesses to the crime.
The same jury will now decide if Serrano, 68,
should be put to death for killing his former business partner and
the relatives of a third partner in the company. They return to
Serrano, a hearing-impaired engineer, appeared
shocked as he stared at his monitor reading the verdicts as they
were transcribed by the court reporter. He cast several glances at
his family but showed no emotion.
Serrano claimed he was in Atlanta for a business
meeting when the shootings occurred. In the defense closing argument
Monday, attorney Robert Norgard argued that the state had failed to
place Serrano in Florida the day of the murders.
The victims' family members, who were threatened
with jail if they made a sound as the verdict was read, wept in the
hallway outside the courtroom and hugged each other following the
The parents of George Patisso, who was shot five
times in the head, called the verdicts a triumph of good over evil.
"Diane and George were good kids," said Mary Ann Patisso. "This
doesn't bring them back, but we have justice."
When asked if Serrano got what he deserved, the
mother responded, "In hell, he'll get what he deserves."
For Phil and Nicoletta Dosso, the parents of
victims Frank Dosso and Diane Patisso, the verdict marked the end of
a nightmare that began when they discovered the gruesome crime scene
nearly nine years ago.
"No parent should ever have to see what I saw,"
said Nicoletta Dosso, who was the first person to discover the
bodies of her children. "He took away everything from me."
Gonsalves, Serrano, and a third partner, Phil
Dosso, relocated to Bartow from New York in the late 1980s to
accommodate their expanding company.
Soon afterward, however, relations between the
three partners began to sour amid allegations of theft and misuse of
funds. The acrimony culminated with Dosso and Gonsalves voting to
remove Serrano from his position of president of Garment, which
performed installations of dry-cleaning conveyor systems, and
cutting his salary.
Serrano left Erie to start his own installation
company, but prosecutors claimed that he returned six months later
to kill Gonsalves, whom he "detested," and came upon the three other
victims in the process.
The jury of seven women and five men sat through
nearly six weeks of trial, hearing from 58 witnesses and viewing
more than 400 exhibits.
Assistant State Attorney John Aguero said the big
break in the case came when authorities discovered an airline ticket
from Atlanta to Orlando on the day of the shootings in the name of
Serrano's estranged son. That son testified in his father's trial
that he did not make the trip.
Aguero also said that an Orlando airport parking
receipt bearing Serrano's fingerprint placed him in Florida the day
of the murders. From there, authorities believe Serrano picked up a
car that his nephew rented for him and drove an hour south to Erie's
offices where he knew Gonsalves would be working late.
What he didn't count on, according to Aguero, was
that Dosso, the company's general manager, would still be there,
along with his brother-in-law, George Patisso, a salesman for the
The two men were waiting for Patisso's wife,
Diane, to pick them up and bring them home for a birthday party for
Dosso's twin daughters. The twins sat with their younger sister in
the courtroom for the verdict.
Aguero claimed that Diane Patisso walked onto the
scene after Serrano shot the three men first, execution-style, in
Dosso's office. Diane Patisso's body was found in a hallway outside
her brother's office.
"I thought it was an overwhelming case and that
was the verdict we expected and that was the verdict we got," Aguero
Trial in Mass Murder Set for April
December 05, 2005
BARTOW -- Eight years have passed since that
December night when Phil and Nicoletta Dosso found the bloodied
bodies of their son, daughter, son-in-law and business partner at
the Erie Manufacturing offices in Bartow.
More than three years have gone by since law
enforcement agents charged Dosso's former business partner, 67-year-old
Nelson Ivan Serrano, with the worst mass murder in Polk County's
The case was set for trial three times this year,
only to be delayed because of illness, judicial issues or newly
Those issues aside, lawyers for the state and
Serrano said they feel certain the case will get to a jury next year.
The six-week trial is scheduled to begin April 24 in Bartow. If
convicted, Serrano could face the death penalty.
Assistant State Attorney John Aguero said he will
argue that Serrano was angry because Dosso and a third partner,
George Gonsalves, forced him out of Erie Manufacturing, a dry
cleaning equipment business.
He set the stage to appear that he was in Atlanta
that Wednesday night, and he was seen in an Atlanta hotel the night
before. But he doubled back to Florida, according to prosecutors,
using aliases to book flights and rental cars.
He returned to Erie Manufacturing just after dusk
Dec. 3, 1997. About that same time, Diane Dosso Patisso, 27, left
the State Attorney's Office in Bartow where she worked as a
prosecutor to pick up her husband at Erie.
An hour later, at their home in Winter Haven, the
Dossos grew concerned because their son, Frank, 35, was
uncharacteristically late for his twin daughters' 11th birthday
celebration. They called the office repeatedly, but no one answered,
so they drove to Bartow.
The Dossos found their daughter's body just
inside the doorway into the building at 1520 Centennial Blvd., but
the nightmare was just beginning. They stepped into Frank's office
and found his body, along with George Patisso Jr., 26, and Gonsalves,
69. All had been shot in the head, execution style.
Law enforcement agents suspected Serrano from the
beginning, but couldn't bring charges against him until March 2001,
when they discovered his fingerprint on a parking garage ticket at
Orlando International Airport the day of the murders. That discovery,
they said, broke his Atlanta alibi.
By that time, though, Serrano had moved to his
native Ecuador. After working with Ecuadorian officials for more
than a year, Agent Tommy Ray with the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement had Serrano deported to face murder charges here. He was
arrested in September 2002.
By the time the case goes to trial in April,
nearly a decade will have passed since the crimes occurred.
Serrano's lawyer, Cheney Mason, like Aguero, said
most criminal trials become more challenging with the passage of
"As a general rule, any case that's that stale is
going to present problems," he said. "It's not something we like to
Fla. v. Serrano: Timeline of the crime
following timeline is based on opening statements and
testimony of witnesses in the trial of businessman
Nelson Serrano, who is accused of flying from Atlanta to
Florida to commit a quadruple homicide. Serrano claims
he was in Atlanta during the incident.
DECEMBER 3, 1997
Serrano is captured on La Quinta Hotel's surveillance
video in Atlanta
using his son's name, Juan Agacio, Serrano boards Delta
Flight 1807 bound for Orlando
Flight 1807 lands in Orlando
garage ticket from Orlando International Airport with
Serrano's fingerprint is stamped
Dosso calls her husband, Frank Dosso, son of Serrano's
former partner Phil Dosso, at Erie Manufacturing and
Garment Conveyor Systems in Bartow, Fla.
employee Karen Stevens clocks out along with David
Patisso leaves Bartow courthouse and heads to the
office, approximately five minutes away.
Dosso, who was expecting her husband to arrive at 5:30,
calls the office.
John Purvis working at a nearby company notices a man
dressed in a suit standing on the sidewalk outside of
Erie Manufacturing. Purvis notes the man did not appear
to have a car.
John White, an alias allegedly used by Serrano, checks
in at Tampa International Airport
calls to 911 to report discovering the dead bodies of
his son, Frank Dosso, his daughter, Diane Patisso, her
husband, George Patisso and his other business partner,
police officer arrives at the scene
leaves Tampa bound for Atlanta
arrives in Atlanta
captured on the surveillance video La Quinta Hotel in