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EX-COUNTY AIDE TESTIFIES IN GARAGE SCANDAL TRIAL

Carl J. Calabrese, who was Erie County deputy executive during the Aurora Highway garage scandals, told a judge Monday that no one had authority to give away county government material or equipment.

Calabrese, a prosecution witness at the trial of Daniel M. Sutton, a former county laborer, told State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia that written policies covered disposing or recycling surplus materials.

Sutton, 36, of Clarence Center, who now works as a laborer in the Clarence Highway Department, waived a jury trial Monday morning on 10 felony and misdemeanor charges filed by a special grand jury that looked into the scandal.

Last November, Buscaglia sentenced Douglas H. Naylon, the former head of the Aurora garage operations and the only other person charged in the case, to three years' probation and fined him $2,870.

Naylon, an Amherst real estate developer, had pleaded guilty Aug. 18 to twice using a county-owned truck four years ago to transport a county-owned bulldozer for use in his own business.

Sutton could face up to four years in prison if convicted of any of 10 counts, including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny, official misconduct, theft of services and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Mark A. Sacha accused Sutton of "intentionally, methodically and repeatedly" stealing goods from the county's Aurora highway garage, including four heavy-equipment tires worth $4,000 and drainage pipe of unstated value.

Sacha said Sutton also improperly used county work vehicles for private purposes and denounced him as being "an opportunist who took advantage of the permissive atmosphere" under Naylon.

Also Monday, Ronald L. Witnauer, former Clarence highway superintendent, testified that soon after he hired Sutton in 2002, Sutton offered to sell the town four heavy-equipment tires that he is accused of stealing from the county.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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