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A state appeals court Tuesday ordered Buffalo attorney Stanley J. Collesano to stand trial on charges he used illegal tactics to force three would-be heirs to hire him as their attorney in Erie County Surrogate Court estate cases.

In a unanimous ruling, the five-member Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester rejected Collesano's claim that he was improperly prosecuted by State Attorney General Robert Abrams.

The appeals court also lifted a nearly month-old court order that had prevented prosecutors in the attorney general's office and the Erie County district attorney's office from putting Collesano, 45, on trial.

Ruling less than a week after it heard the case, the Rochester court said Abrams was authorized under the state's Executive Law to investigate alleged wrongdoing by Collesano and "prosecute this indictment" with an Erie County grand jury.

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