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E-mail Used To Nab Suspect

July 4, 1999

WAKEFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A man who was declared unfit to stand trial on weapons charges was charged again after his mental capabilities appeared fine in a 10-month Internet romance with an undercover agent.

Authorities said the relationship showed that Stephen DiCenso had faked mental incompetence.

DiCenso, 24, was charged in federal court Friday with possessing a machine gun, unregistered firearms and a gun with an erased serial number.

DiCenso had faced the same charges in February 1997, but a judge ruled he was incompetent to face the charges after a heroin overdose apparently left him brain damaged.

The overdose occurred the day after police found tissue, blood and hair from his ex-girlfriend, Aislin Silva, in a trash bin in Danvers, a community north of Boston. Several empty bags of lime, which can speed decomposition, were also found in the bin.

Ms. Silva, 19, vanished in November 1996. Although DiCenso was not charged in her disappearance, prosecutors said she had been cooperating with investigators on a gun-possession case against DiCenso.

His re-arrest Friday came after an agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms _ posing as a female student from the University of New Hampshire _ spent months on the Internet trying to get DiCenso to talk about Ms. Silva’s disappearance.

According to an affidavit filed by ATF agent John A. Mercer Jr., DiCenso spoke in e-mails of making $100,000 as a marijuana dealer for the Mafia and bragged about his involvement in Ms. Silva’s death.

In April, Mercer arranged for an undercover female officer to pose as a student and meet DiCenso at a restaurant. At the meeting, DiCenso showed newspaper clippings about Ms. Silva’s disappearance and the remains found in the trash bin, according to the affidavit.

A psychiatrist testified in court Friday that the e-mails, a videotape of the restaurant meeting and DiCenso’s medical records show he is competent to stand trial.

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