Man sentenced to 25 years after no-contest plea for killing Lee County veteran

Reporter: Michael Hudak Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Michael Joseph Wasko (Credit: LCSO booking photo)

A man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing an elderly veteran in south Fort Myers and trying to make it look like a suicide after a no-contest plea Monday morning.

It wasn’t until Monday that we heard from Wasko. Some of the judge’s questions painted a picture of his life. Wasko told the judge he only made it to his junior year in high school and that he does not suffer from mental problems.

Wasko did admit that he caused Lagatutta’s suffering.

Lagattuta was an 80-year-old veteran who allowed Wasko to stay at his Jamacia Bay home.

Michael Wasko, 47, faced one count of second-degree murder in the death of Ron Lagattuta. Lagattuta’s body was found in the bedroom closet of his home in the Jamaica Bay community in March 2021. A postmortem examination of Lagattuta found he suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries to his face and head, fractures to his ribs and sternum, injuries to his heart and spine, a laceration to his liver and fractures to his hyoid bone (a bone located in the larynx).

It was also determined the ligature had been placed around Lagattuta’s neck after he died. The arrest warrant states Wasko staged Lagattuta to make it appear he strangled himself while masturbating.

Police say Wasko stole Lagattuta’s car before being found and arrested soon after in Port Wentworth, Georgia. He will serve a concurrent five-year sentence for one count of grand theft auto.

Wasko was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder and five years in prison for grand theft auto. Those sentences will run concurrently.

“I’m not happy about it at all. I don’t think 25 years is nearly enough, it’s nothing. He needs to stay in there forever. I’m devastated because I don’t think he should ever be able to come out again. He should not be allowed in society,” said Ronae Lagattuta, Ron Lagattuta’s daughter.

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