U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York
(716) 843-5700
December 3, 2014

Stillwater Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Large Shoplifting Ring

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Terry Stewart, 35, of Stillwater, NY, pleaded guilty to engaging in a racketeering conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Richard J Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, who is handling the case, Stewart was part of an organized shoplifting ring that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise, including breast pumps, whitening strips, cross stitch an needlepoint kits, electric toothbrushes, thumb drives, pet supplements, razors, and tool sets big box from big box stores such as Walmart, Sears, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Tops and Wegmans. The merchandise was then allegedly sold to co-defendant Rico Vendetti for 25¢ on the dollar. The merchandise was then allegedly sold by Vendetti on eBay for about half of its retail value, primarily to out-of-state customers. The defendant alone supplied Vendetti with about $700,000 in stolen merchandise over a period of several years.

Rico Vendetti, along with Arlene Combs, Albert Parsons, and Donald Griffin, all of Rochester, N.Y., are charged with felony murder in the death of 78-year old Homer Marciniak during the course of a home invasion robbery at Marciniak’s home in Medina, N.Y. in July, 2010. In addition, Vendetti and Combs are charged with racketeering, which includes the murder, witness tampering and transporting stolen goods in interstate commerce. If convicted of the felony murder charge, Vendetti, Combs, Parsons and Griffin face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Vendetti is scheduled to be tried in front of Judge Aracara beginning next week. Charges are pending against defendants Combs, Parsons, and Griffin. 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.

The plea is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Scott Crosier, 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.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 16, 2015 before Judge Arcara.

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