Wrongful death suit against Venezia's estate set for status conference

Ann Knef Jul. 29, 2009, 5:28am

A status conference that had been scheduled Thursday in a wrongful death suit against the estate of gambling kingpin Thomas Venezia and the man who allegedly provided a .38 caliber revolver used in what Belleville police described as a murder-suicide, has been reset.

The conference will take place Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m. in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young's court.

According to police, Venezia, 64, shot his girlfriend Jennifer Anderson, 21, in the back of the head and then killed himself at an apartment they shared at 311 Mascoutah Ave. in Belleville on July 18, 2005.

Two years later, Anderson's parents filed suit in St. Clair County against Venezia's estate and Robert Staack of Millstadt.

Michael and Cynthia Anderson claim they have suffered and will continue to suffer great mental and emotional distress over the death of their daughter.

The Andersons, represented by William L. Berry of Dunham, Boman & Leskera of Belleville and James W. Schottel, Jr. of St. Louis, are suing Staack on a count of negligent entrustment for providing Venezia with the weapon used to kill their daughter.

In setting the status conference, Young has asked parties to review their files and be prepared to address service, discovery, trial date and jury demand matters.

The complaint was filed July 17, 2007, but not much activity has taken place in the case over the last two years. Defendants have not answered the complaint, according to the thin case file.

Venezia was convicted of gambling and racketeering in 1995. Before his death, he was reported to have suffered from throat cancer.

"At the time Defendant Robert Staack entrusted the .38 caliber revolver to Defendant Thomas Venezia," the complaint states. "Defendant Thomas Venezia was suffering from cancer, depression and financial instability."

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