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Justice News

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rochester Woman Sentenced For Role In Burglary Leading 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 Arlene Combs, 31, of Rochester, NY, who was convicted of racketeering, was sentenced today to 240 months by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

“This case, which began with greed, ended in the murder of a senior citizen,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “As this sentence demonstrates, law enforcement will be relentless in pursuing each and every person responsible for Mr. Marciniak’s, regardless of role in that crime.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen, Jr., who handled the case, said that Combs and co-defendant Rico Vendetti hired three men, Donald Griffin, Albert Parsons, and Juan Javier, to travel from Rochester to the Medina, NY home of 78 year old Homer Marciniak to steal Marciniak’s valuable comic book collection in exchange for $1,000 each.

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 defendants returned to Marciniak’s home. Wearing ski masks and gloves, Griffin, Parsons, and Javier forcibly entered and during the course of the burglary, Marciniak, who had a serious heart condition, awoke 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. Parsons, Griffin, 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. However, after Marciniak was treated and released, 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. Once Vendetti learned that the burglary resulted in Marciniak’s death, however, Vendetti disposed of the comic books.

Law enforcement officials within the Rochester Police Department identified the defendants during the course of separate investigation in October 2010.  The defendants were arrested soon thereafter. In February and March 2011, Combs attempted to persuade Javier to not communicate with law enforcement about the July 2010 burglary and subsequent death of Homer Marciniak. 

The burglary grew out of an organized shoplifting ring that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from retail stores such as Walmart, Sears, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Tops, and Wegmans. Vendetti, the former owner of Eastside Gold & Car Audio, formerly in Rochester, New York, along with codefendant, Dayon Shaver, purchased the stolen merchandise for 25¢ on the dollar and then sold the stolen merchandise on eBay for about half of its retail value, primarily to out-of-state customers.

Also convicted in connection with this case:

• Rico Vendetti was convicted of racketeering and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 20, 2016.
• Donald Griffin was convicted of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering: murder, and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, 2016.
• Albert Parsons was convicted of a violent crime in aid of racketeering: assault resulting in bodily injury, and is scheduled to be sentenced in May 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 March 24, 2016