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Second Ringleader of Local Organized Retail Theft Group Pleads Guilty to Enterprise Corruption

Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Keane announces that 38-year-old William A. Lewis, Jr. of Sloan pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon before State Supreme Court Justice Paul B. Wojtaszek to one count of Enterprise Corruption (Class “B” felony).  

The defendant admitted to being a member of a local organized retail theft ring. Lewis participated in a pattern of criminal activity by overseeing the operation of the group and employing other individuals to steal items from various retailers throughout Erie County in exchange for financial compensation. Lewis, who acted in concert with Rico Small and other individuals, sold the stolen merchandise for a profit. The group is believed to be responsible for numerous thefts countywide that occurred between October 2022 through September 2023 with an estimated total loss of approximately $70,000.

On March 4, 2024, his co-defendant 45-year-old Rico D. Small of Buffalo was sentenced before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. Small pleaded guilty to one count of Enterprise Corruption (Class “B” felony), the highest sustainable charge, in January 2024. 

Lewis faces a maximum of 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 18, 2024 a 9:30 a.m. He was held without bail.

As a condition of the plea, Lewis signed a civil asset forfeiture settlement agreement to forfeit his ownership of the stolen merchandise that was seized during the course of the investigation. The stolen merchandise, recovered from locations on Koons Avenue, Langmeyer Avenue and Kingsley Street in the City of Buffalo, included clothing, household items and electronics. 

“Theft is financial devastating for retailers, especially local small business owners. In addition to the negative economic impact for businesses and our community, I am deeply concerned about the serious threat that these thieves pose to the safety of store employees and customers. This defendant is the second person to be charged and convicted of this crime in Erie County. Anyone who engages in organized retail crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Acting Erie County DA Mike Keane.

Acting DA Keane commends Detective Chris Lovallo of the Cheektowaga Police Department and the numerous members of the New York State Police, Buffalo Police Department, Cheektowaga Police Department and the Town of Hamburg Police Department for their work in this ongoing investigation.  

The case was prosecuted by Chief Gary M. Ertel of the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau.