Former Carnival Worker Pleads Guilty To Felony Murder For Role In Burglary Which Led To Death Of Medina Comic Book Collector; Conviction Brings To A Close First Of Its Kind Racketeering Prosectuion
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Albert Parsons, 46, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty to committing a violent crime, an assault resulting in serious bodily injury, in aid of a racketeering enterprise, before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.
“Similar to operations of old, the defendants in this case employed various street level criminals to steal,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. Unlike past criminal organizations, however, Rico Vendetti and his cohorts used the power and anonymity of the internet to thereafter dispose of their ill-gotten gains, in effect creating a high-tech fencing operation in which unwitting purchasers could be located anywhere in the world. As this case – the first of its kind in the District - demonstrates, the federal racketeering laws are more than capable of dismantling both old fashioned, and modern day criminal operations.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Anthony M. Bruce and Scott S. Allen, Jr., who are handling the case, said that in the early morning hours of July 5, 2010 the defendant and co-defendants Donald Griffin and Juan Javier burglarized the Medina, NY home of 78 year old Homer Marciniak. The three men were hired by Rico Vendetti and Arlene Combs to steal Marciniak’s valuable comic book collection. During the course of the burglary, Marciniak, who had a serious heart condition, awoke and confronted the burglars. Griffin struck Marciniak and then, along with Javier, tied him up. Marciniak was also repeatedly threatened by Javier. Parsons, Griffin and Javier ultimately located the comic book collection along with several strong boxes containing cash, coins and other valuables.
After Parsons, Griffin and Javier fled the scene, Marciniak freed himself and was taken to Medina Memorial Hospital for treatment of the facial injuries he suffered when struck by Griffin. However, after Marciniak was treated and released, he suffered a heart attack and died shortly after being re-admitted to the hospital. Medical evidence that the Government was prepared to offer at trial demonstrated that the blow Griffin struck, as well as the emotional trauma caused by the burglary, directly contributed to Marciniak’s cardiac arrest and resulting death.
Parsons, Griffin and Javier gave the comic books to Combs who, along with another co-defendant, Terry Stewart, took the comic books to Vendetti later in the day on July 5. However, once Vendetti learned that the burglary resulted in Marciniak’s death, Vendetti disposed of the comic books.
The burglary grew out of an organized shoplifting ring that stole millions of dollars in merchandise from big box stores such as Walmart, Sears, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Tops and Wegmans. The merchandise was sold to Rico Vendetti for 25¢ on the dollar. The merchandise was then sold by Vendetti on eBay for about half of its retail value, primarily to out-of-state customers.
Parsons is the last of seven defendants to be convicted federally in this case. He will be sentenced on April 1, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.
Donald Griffin will be sentenced on February 3, 2016. Juan Javier, who was 17 at the time of the burglary of Marciniak’s home, was prosecuted as an adult in Orleans County and sentenced to seven years in state prison.
Also convicted in connection with this case:
• Rico Vendetti was convicted of racketeering and will be sentenced on January 22, 2016.
• Brandon Meade was convicted of conspiring to traffic in stolen goods across state lines and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 21, 2016.
• Terry Stewart was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to 55 months in federal prison.
• Dayon Shaver was convicted of conspiring to traffic in stolen goods across state lines and will be sentenced on March 21, 2016.
• Arlene Combs was convicted of racketeering and will be sentenced on February 24, 2016.
Today’s plea is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Craig Hanesworth, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Scott Hess, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, the Medina Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jose Avila and Officers from the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli. Special assistance was provided by Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone.