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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Buffalo Man Indicted In Connection With Violent Home Invasion Of An Elderly Tonawanda Couple

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Todd Laraba, 41, of Buffalo, NY, with Hobbs Act robbery and conspiracy, and marijuana conspiracy. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul C. Parisi, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, on September 28, 2017, shortly before 9:00 p.m., two men entered the residence at 540 Harrison Avenue in Buffalo, NY, and went to the family room where an elderly couple (victims) was watching television. The complaint states that the men were wearing black hooded sweat shirts, black pants, black gloves and skeleton masks, and one of the men had a husky or larger build. One of the men stated to the victims, "This isn't going to hurt, or take long. You won't get hurt, just relax." The men zip tied the victims’ hands and ankles with black zip ties and placed duct tape across the victims’ mouth and eyes. One of the men stayed with the victims while the other went to the attic of the residence. After approximately ten minutes the victims heard the rear door close. At this time they removed the duct tape from their eyes and mouth. One of the victims observed one of the men fleeing while carrying what appeared to be a lockbox.

The Town of Tonawanda Police Department responded and while processing the scene, officers recovered four black zip ties, four pieces of glossy duct tape, and other items.

Subsequent DNA testing determined that the major DNA profile obtained from the zip ties obtained from the ankles and wrists of one of the victims matched the DNA of Laraba.
In addition, between April and November 2017, the defendant conspired with others to possess and distribute marijuana.

“I applaud the dogged efforts of investigators from the Tonawanda Police and the Erie County Sheriff’s Departments, who, along with the federal partners at HSI and the FBI, never gave up on identifying and tracking down the person responsible for terrorizing these elderly victims in the serenity of their own home,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “The arrest of this defendant should send a strong message to anyone thinking about preying on those most vulnerable—you will be discovered; you will be apprehended; and you will be brought to justice.”       

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Town of Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Jerome C. Uschold, III; U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.  

 

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Violent Crime
Updated February 20, 2019