Buffalo Police Officer Indicted on Civil Rights Violations
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a two count indictment charging Robert Eloff Jr., 40, of Buffalo, NY, with deprivation of rights under color of law and conspiracy to deprive an individual of rights under color of law. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Guerra, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant is charged in connection with an incident at Molly’s Pub in Buffalo in 2014.
According to the indictment and a complaint filed earlier in the case, in the early morning hours of May 11, 2014, William Sager was pushed down a flight of stairs at Molly’s Pub by Jeffrey Basil. Sager later died of his injuries and Basil was convicted in state court of murder. At the time Sager was pushed by Basil, Eloff was in Molly’s Pub working security for the bar.
A victim identified as D.H. was with William Sager the night he was pushed down the stairs. The complaint states that D.H saw people carry Sager outside after he fell down the stairs. When the victim went outside, Sager was propped up, sitting the on the ground. As he was asking officers what happened, Eloff grabbed D.H. and told him to get out of there. The victim then walked away and called 911. When other officers arrived, the victim asked for Eloff’s name and badge number at which point he was arrested and handcuffed by Eloff and seated next to Sager. D.H. was later taken from the scene by other officers. According to the complaint, Eloff told officers that D.H. had physically interfered with Eloff and others inside the bar. A later review of surveillance video from Molly’s Pub revealed that the victim never confronted or was physical with Eloff in the bar. According to the complaint, Eloff caused D.H. to be arrested for trespassing, a crime he never committed. During the incident Eloff also handcuffed William Sager and attempted to arrest him. The indictment alleges that Eloff conspired with another person to arrest DH and Sager for crimes they did not commit.
The indictment is the culmination of an investigation by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
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.