A LOBBYIST from a prominent Republican family, who is married to 6abc reporter Annie McCormick, pleaded no contest yesterday to misdemeanor charges in a groping incident involving a 27-year-old woman last year.

Andrew Marsico, 41, of Center City, was then sentenced to five years' probation under a plea deal negotiated by his attorney, Fortunato "Fred" Perri Jr., and Assistant District Attorney Adam Geer.

In telling Common Pleas Judge Charles Cunningham III about the facts in the case, Geer said that about 10 p.m. Aug. 21, 2014, Marsico and the woman were alone in his office, at Greenlee Partners, in The Bellevue, at Broad and Walnut streets.

At some point, Marsico pushed the woman "against the wall at least two times, and at one time groped her, causing her pain," Geer said.

Geer also said that when the woman was pushed against the wall, "she struck her head."

Marsico entered no-contest pleas to three misdemeanor charges - recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and harassment. He declined comment before the judge.

However, after the hearing, McCormick said of her husband's case: "It's bulls---. You have to weigh whether you're going to trial and put your lives in 12 people's hands . . . There are choices to make."

She said when police went to arrest her husband, showing up at 3 a.m. at their apartment at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, they "did no investigation." Marsico was arrested a month after the incident and posted bail.

"He is innocent of everything," McCormick said.

Later yesterday, she sent an emailed statement by her husband that said in part: "Today the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office decided to drop all sexual assault charges against me."

In the statement, Marsico emphasized that while he did not contest the three charges, "I am not admitting any guilt whatsoever as it relates to them."

He said he "was taken out of my apartment in the middle of the night [by police] and held in custody for 17 hours. Prior to my arrest, they never attempted to come to my office or home. Police never obtained video from my office (the alleged scene of the crime) which would have exonerated me.

"I wanted the entire truth to come out at trial but, after much thought my family and I decided to accept the plea."

He contended that his accuser is not credible, but the "consequences of a jury trial could put me in jail, make me a Megan's Law Offender, and take away my law license even though I am an innocent man."

Cameron Kline, the D.A.'s Office's spokesman, said in response to Marsico's written statement: "It is disappointing that the defendant is not accepting responsibility for the very crimes he conceded committing this afternoon in court.

"We applaud the courage of the victim in coming forward to disclose the defendant's criminal conduct. As a result of his sentence of five years supervised probation, we believe it will adequately protect the safety of other young women in this commonwealth."

In exchange for Marsico's plea, the prosecution dropped a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault without consent and misdemeanor charges of unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and indecent assault.

Upon the prosecutor's request, Cunningham also ordered Marsico, known as "A.J.," to pay about $1,100 in restitution to the state's victims compensation fund to reimburse it for hospital and transportation costs for the victim. He also issued a stay-away order.

When Geer asked the judge for restitution, McCormick, who sat in the courtroom gallery, muttered, "Jesus Christ!"

The victim, now 28, was not in the courtroom yesterday.

She testified at a preliminary hearing last year. She has told authorities that she met Marsico at an event at the Union League, on Broad Street, just before they went to his office in The Bellevue.

At the time of the incident, he was a senior associate at Greenlee Partners, a powerful lobbying firm with offices at The Bellevue in Philadelphia, in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

His brother is longtime Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico. A cousin, Ron Marsico, is a longtime Republican state representative in Dauphin County, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

Immediately after the hearing, Perri said: "This was an isolated incident in Mr. Marsico's otherwise law-abiding lifestyle. He made the decision today because he felt it was in his best interests under the circumstances."

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