Funeral services are today for Glenn Edward LoStracco, who flew commercial jets in New York but found his calling as a Fresno criminal defense attorney, family and friends said.
Mr. LoStracco died Monday at the age of 60. His wife, Sonia, and his family were by his side.
Mr. LoStracco had been in failing health since Dec. 14, when he entered the hospital with a blood clot in his lung, Sonia LoStracco said. His lungs were in poor condition from pneumonia and years of smoking -- a habit he quit more than a decade ago, she said.
When his condition worsened, he signed papers at Community Regional Medical Center not to be resuscitated, his wife said. "I didn't want him to go, but I had to honor his wish," Sonia LoStracco said Thursday.
Mr. LoStracco defended murderers, sexual predators, embezzlers and car thieves. He also made an unsuccessful bid for the Fresno County Superior Court bench in 2008. Mr. LoStracco said his campaign lost steam when his father, Edward LoStracco, died in May 2008.
The elder LoStracco was an immigrant from Italy, who forged a life in America as a carpenter in the New York area and as a union foreman on urban renewal projects.
"He loved his father," Sonia LoStracco said.
In his spare time he played golf every weekend with a group of friends at Copper River Country Club. He usually shot in the high 70s or low 80s, said golfing buddy Jack Rustigan.
"He was a pretty good golfer and a straight shooter," said Rustigan, a Fresno pharmacist. "You never had to worry about what he thought."
When one of his clients -- prolific auto thief Robert Wollert -- got a plea deal that kept him out of prison, Mr. LoStracco defended the judge's decision. "In the end, isn't that the goal -- to reform people so that they cause no more harm?" he wrote in a Letter to the Editor to The Bee in February last year.
In another high-profile case, Mr. LoStracco successfully convinced prosecutors in July 2011 to drop a murder charge against a Fresno woman who stabbed her boyfriend to death. Mr. LoStracco said Rebecca Kerr feared for her life when she killed Michael Grimaldo in self-defense.
He also defended Fresno pastor Charles Dickerson, who was found not guilty of child molestation and rape charges in 2008. Afterward, Mr. LoStracco tearfully told the Pearly Grove Baptist Church congregation that Dickerson was slandered in court.
Born in Yonkers, N.Y., Mr. LoStracco wore long hair, rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles and flew corporate jets before moving to California in the 1980s, said Fresno attorney Ron Sawl.
Back then, Sawl and Mr. LoStracco worked together as private investigators in Fresno. One of their assignments was working for Greyhound during the 1983 strike that pitted union employees against replacements, Sawl said.
The nationwide strike was marred by violence, but Mr. LoStracco's experiences as a steely-eyed jet pilot paid off, Sawl said. "As bad as it got, Glenn never lost his cool," he said.
While working as private investigators, Mr. LoStracco and Sawl attended San Joaquin College of Law at night. They became lawyers in 1988.
Mr. LoStracco began his career as a Fresno County deputy district attorney. After three years, he opened his own practice, specializing in criminal defense. He and his wife later created the firm "Law-Men."
Sonia LoStracco said her husband loved to defend the underdog and "would give his last dollar to you if you needed it."
He also loved to help young lawyers, said Fresno attorney Daljit Rakkar, who received his law degree in June last year. Rakkar worked for Mr. LoStracco and visited him in the hospital to discuss pending cases. "Though he was very sick, his mind was still sharp up to the time of his death," Rakkar said.
And after years of not flying, Mr. LoStracco joined the Fresno County volunteer air squadron last year, said Rustigan, who is also a member. Mr. LoStracco was signed up to fly missions this summer, Rustigan said.
"His death is a tragedy," Rustigan said. "He was a fun guy who is going to be missed."
Glenn Edward LoStracco
Born: July 29, 1952
Died: March 18, 2013
Job: Fresno criminal defense lawyer
Survivors: wife, Sonia; mother, Florence Belotti; daughter, Sharon Johnson; stepson, Michael Karagozian; grandson, Isaiah Johnson.
Services: Mass 10 a.m. today at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Fresno. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to American Lung Association Central California, 4948 N. Arthur Ave., Fresno, 93705.