Former Town of West Seneca Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Color of Law Violation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 13, 2010|
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., announced today that Sean Kelley, 30, of West Seneca, New York, pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights under color of law before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, a fine of $100,000, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, who is handling the prosecution of the case, stated that the case arose when the defendant, at the time a police officer with the West Seneca Police Department, was in a restaurant with his wife. The victim, referred to as “J.Y.,” made a comment to friends which was apparently overheard by Kelley, and to which Kelley took offense. The victim immediately apologized to Kelley and bought he and his wife drinks, allowing the victim to believe he could resume dining in the restaurant.
Unfortunately for J.Y., Kelley contacted two on-duty West Seneca police officers and requested their assistance at the restaurant. As soon as the on-duty officers arrived, Kelley got up from his seat and grabbed J.Y. from behind by his coat collar. Kelley then forced the victim to a back parking lot outside, where according to the victim, Kelley put his hands around the victim’s throat and proceeded to choke him. The victim stated that he did not feel he could resist the attack because of the presence of the two West Seneca police officers, who were also outside observing the assault.
The precise charge for which Kelley was convicted makes it a crime for anyone who, acting under color of law and without lawful authority, restrains and applies physical force to another, thereby willfully depriving a person of rights secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including the right to be free from unreasonable seizure and the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force.
U.S. Attorney Hochul said the plea was conditioned on the defendant also pleading guilty in Erie Count Court to a count of attempted assault in the second degree, a class E felony. This offense, which is being handled by the Office of Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, related to the defendant’s assault of a Buffalo Police Officer after Kelley had been charged and released on bail for his attack on J.Y. As a result of that assault, the defendant’s bail was revoked and the defendant has been incarcerated in federal custody since September 22, 2010.
Assistant United States Attorney Anthony M. Bruce assisted in the prosecution of the case. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James Robertson.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2011 at 12:30 p.m. EST, in Buffalo , N.Y., in front of U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara. Kelley remains in federal custody.