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Justice News

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rochester Men Sentenced For Their Roles In Burglary That Led To Death Of Elderly Medina Comic Book Collector

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

BUFFALO, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Rico Vendetti, 45, of Rochester, NY, who was convicted of racketeering following a home invasion robbery that led to the death of an elderly Medina, NY man, was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. In addition, Donald Griffin, 28, also of Rochester, who was convicted of committing murder in aid of racketeering, was sentenced to 240 months in prison as well.

“This case - which began with shoplifting and ended with murder – justly earned the defendant a lengthy sentence in federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.  “As the case also demonstrates, this Office will utilize all of the tools given by Congress, including the racketeering laws, to bring organized criminals to justice. While unfortunately nothing law enforcement does can restore Mr. Marciniak to his family, certainly today’s sentence brings a measure of closure in that justice has been served.”   
Assistant U.S. Attorney Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen, Jr., who, along with retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, handled the case, stated that beginning  in  approximately  2005,  the  defendant  utilized a number of shoplifters who engaged in shoplifting of items from stores such as Walmart,  Sears, Target, JoAnn Fabrics, Home Depot, Tops Markets,  Wegman's, and  various  chain  drug  stores,  most  of which were located in Monroe  and Genesee Counties.

The shoplifters stole merchandise that Vendetti told them he needed which he subsequently sold through eBay accounts he maintained. The defendant paid the shoplifters would buy from the boosters, the defendant told them he would pay them about 25¢ on the dollar of the normal retail price of the merchandise.  Using the defendant's merchandise lists, the shoplifters went into the stores, at times alone and at times in teams, to shoplift.  Among  the items  stolen  in  this fashion  were breast  pumps,  Crest  Whitestrips,  cross  stitch  and  needlepoint  kits, electric toothbrushes  and replacement heads, computer  memory sticks and flash drives, pet supplements and DNA tests for pets, razors, razor blades  and   replacement   razor  heads,   tool  sets,  vacuum   cleaners, binoculars, batteries, plumbing fixtures and KitchenAid mixers. In total, Vendetti obtained and then sold over $700,000 in merchandise.

In July 2010, the defendant, the former owner of Eastside Gold & Car Audio, formerly in Rochester, hired co-defendant Arlene Combs to travel from Rochester to the Medina, NY home of 78 year old Homer Marciniak to steal Marciniak’s valuable comic book collection. Combs recruited co-defendants Griffin, Albert Parsons, and Juan Javier for the home invasion, promising each  $1,000.

In executing their plan, in the early morning hours of July 4, 2010, Combs, along with Griffin, Parson, and Javier, drove from Rochester to Medina and cut Marciniak’s phone line. In the early morning hours of the following day, July 5, 2010, the gang returned to Marciniak’s home. Wearing ski masks and gloves, Griffin, Parsons, and Javier forcibly entered Marciniak’s home through a first story window. During the course of the burglary, Marciniak, who had a serious heart condition, woke and confronted the burglars. Griffin struck Marciniak in the face and then, along with Javier, bound his hands with bed linens. Javier then verbally threatened Marciniak with a BB gun in hand.  Griffin, Parsons, and Javier ultimately located the comic book collection along with several strong boxes containing cash, coins, and other valuables.

After Griffin, Parsons, and Javier fled the scene with Combs, Marciniak freed himself and was taken to Medina Memorial Hospital for treatment of his facial injuries. After Marciniak was treated and released, however, he suffered a heart attack, was re-admitted to the hospital, and died shortly thereafter. Medical experts concluded 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.

Griffin, Parsons, and Javier gave the comic books to Combs who, along with another codefendant, Terry Stewart, took the comic books to Vendetti later in the day on July 5. When Vendetti learned that the burglary resulted in Marciniak’s death, Vendetti disposed of the comic books.

Law enforcement officials within the Rochester Police Department identified the defendants during the course of a separate investigation in October 2010.  The defendants were arrested soon thereafter.  Soon after the arrest, Vendetti attempted to obstruct justice by agreeing to have a phony witness submit a false affidavit, and by telling codefendant Brandon Meade to “keep his mouth shut” if approached by law enforcement. 

Convicted in connection with this case:

• Rico Vendetti was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 240 months in federal prison on April 20, 2016.
• Donald Griffin was convicted of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering: murder, and sentenced to 240 months in federal prison on April 19, 2016.
• Arlene Combs was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 240 months in federal prison on March 22, 2016.
• Albert Parsons was convicted of a violent crime in aid of racketeering: assault resulting in bodily injury, and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 9, 2016.
• Juan Javier, who was 17 at the time of the burglary, was prosecuted as an adult in Orleans County, and sentenced to seven years in state prison.
• 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 on March 21, 2016, and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison.
• Brandon Meade was convicted of conspiring to traffic in stolen goods across state lines and was sentenced on January 21, 2016 to time-served after serving nine months in federal prison.

The sentencing 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.

Updated April 21, 2016