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Judge hikes fines against real estate investor to $34,700

Buffalo Housing Court Judge Henry Nowak on Wednesday increased fines against real estate investor Keith W. Pillich to $34,700 and said he will place the 15 Pillich properties in receivership so tenants can continue to pay rents.

Nowak also threatened to add a 60-day jail term to Pillich's prison term of 18 months to four years in prison -- the second time he has been sentenced to prison in the last 20 years.

Pillich, 52, told the judge his properties on Parkdale Avenue were repeatedly vandalized by "juvenile delinquents smashing up the whole neighborhood."

Reminding Pillich that he is overdue on payment of $10,000 in fines on rental properties on Vermont, West and Grant streets, the judge imposed an additional $24,700 in fines for six Pillich properties on Grant and Parkdale.

Nowak reserved decision on a request from Sheila Burke, Erie County Health Department prosecutor, to add a 60-day jail term imposed on Pillich for code violations to the prison term imposed Dec. 21 on a West Avenue rental scam.

After the court session, Pillich's attorney, Salvatore P. Abbate, called Nowak's sentences "very fair under the circumstances." Abbate also called Burke's request for additional jail time for his client illegal.

Abbate also said his client's imprisonment "made it impossible for him to complete all the needed repairs" on his Buffalo real estate holdings.

Nowak said he may appoint a Buffalo community organization to serve as a receiver of rents on Pillich properties to enable tenants to continue living there and keep rental income flowing for possible eventual seizure to pay the Housing Court fines.

Pillich, of Amherst, who still faces an Amherst Town Court appearance on allegations he shoplifted last May at the Amherst Home Depot store, declined to comment as he was led from the court back to prison.

On Jan. 9, Chief City Judge Thomas P. Amodeo imposed a 90-day jail term on Pillich on a criminal contempt charge linked to his Housing Court troubles, but that won't add to his current prison stay.

A decade ago, Pillich spent less than four months in prison on his conviction in a $1.5 million investment scam involving elderly investors.


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