Dethroned

“King of Pizza” arrested for pretending to be gay to rape women

Alberto Nicoletti (left) and Vincenzo Mineo. Via Facebook

Police in Australia have arrested 29-year-old pizza restauranteur Alberto Nicoletti in connection with a series of rapes. Investigators say Nicoletti had posed as a gay man to earn the trust of women, then assault them.

Italian outlet Il Giornale reports Australian law enforcement detained Nicoletti as well as an accomplice, 36-year-old Vincenzo Mineo, labeling both men “serial rapists.” Investigators assert that the pair began a reign of terror in March earlier this year. Mineo and Nicoletti would pose as a gay couple and visit clubs throughout Western Australia. The two would then target “drunk and vulnerable” women for assault. At least eight women have accused the pair.

Related: Brazil rocked by brutal gang rape of a gay man

Police managed to track Nicoletti and Mineo using a combination of security camera footage and eyewitness accounts. The cameras yielded clear photos of the pair, which investigators then circulated throughout the cities of Perth and Scarborough where the attacks had taken place. The awareness campaign also prompted other victims to come forward during the investigation, and eventually resulted in the arrest of the two men.

Employees of Nicoletti expressed their shock and horror at the arrests.

“It was a surprise,” one employee told The West Australian. “I know him quite well, I am working with him. It’s a shame. I saw the news. I am working here one year already and he’s a good boss.”

At this point, Australian courts have denied repeated requests for bail or release for Nicoletti and Mineo, with a trial date set for October. Both men have denied any charges of assault, claiming any sex they engaged in was consensual.

Alberto Nicoletti first immigrated to Perth, Australia in his early 20s. There, he launched Lago di Como, a traditional Italian restaurant and pizzeria which had become enormously popular with the local population, earning him the nickname “King of Pizza.”