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Wife testifies in husband's murder trial

Diane DiMartino had forgotten about the bounced check that dashed her family's plans for a Disney cruise until she heard Thursday's testimony about thousands of dollars in bad checks at the murder trial of the man accused of masterminding the slaying of her husband.

On the morning of Oct. 20, 2008, James DiMartino of Nesconset learned he might have to scrap the cruise plans because a check from Ronald Thornton had bounced, his widow said outside court.

She said he told her that he would discuss it with Thornton when the pair had a meeting later that day. "He was really upset," she said.

But hours after discovering the bounced check, James DiMartino, 44, was found shot dead in a Commack parking lot. Prosecutors say Thornton paid three people about $10,000 to kill DiMartino because he knew about real estate frauds allegedly perpetrated by Thornton.

The bounced check and other allegedly irregular banking activity by Thornton were the subject of testimony Thursday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, where Thornton, 39, of Nesconset, is on trial for first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy in connection with DiMartino's death.

He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Prosecutors Thursday rested their case, and Thornton's attorneys announced they would not call witnesses. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.

A Suffolk investigative auditor testified Thursday that Thornton frequently wrote checks for business associates that later were returned for insufficient funds.

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Ming Liu Parson, the auditor, Kristen Rilling, said Thornton gave DiMartino a check for $200,000 as part of a business deal in August 2008. When that check bounced, DiMartino's escrow account had a negative balance of $61,000, Rilling said.

Thornton then gave DiMartino a check for $450,000, which also bounced, Rilling testified.

On Oct. 11, Thornton gave DiMartino a personal check worth $20,000, Rilling said.

DiMartino, a Disney fan, used the money to write two checks for about $15,000 to pay for the cruise, Diane DiMartino said outside court Thursday.

DiMartino had promised the trip to his family for about a year, she said.

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