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Sheriff's union endorses Sedita

Two weeks after district attorney candidate Ken Case lost the Democratic primary, he threw his support to its winner, Frank A. Sedita III, and urged his supporters to join him.

But would the police unions that endorsed Case follow? One has so far.

Sedita is a deputy to Frank J. Clark, the district attorney who wore out his welcome with many uniformed officers.

Just hours after Case endorsed Sedita last week, the Erie County Sheriff's Police Benevolent Association endorsed him as well, despite his connections to Clark, who in May decided not to seek re-election, citing health issues.

The PBA, with 135 members, has as much reason as any police union to harbor a grudge against Clark and, by extension, Sedita.

Clark's staff had prosecuted Deputy George Avery based on the claim of a driver Avery had arrested. With flimsy evidence, Clark forced Avery to stand trial on the belief he had raped the man. Avery was found not guilty in September 2007 -- after spending tens of thousands of dollars on his defense. The PBA sensed open contempt from the prosecutors' office. The damage was done.

Sedita, Clark's chief homicide prosecutor, was not involved in the Avery case. But he is a deputy district attorney and the candidate Clark wants to succeed him.

The PBA's board interviewed both Sedita and Republican candidate Diane M. LaVallee before announcing its general-election endorsement.

Sedita was asked about the Avery case.

"The fact that there were questions that we had and that he responded in a positive manner, we felt comfortable," said PBA president Alan Rozansky.

Sedita on several occasions has distanced himself from Clark.

"I am Frank Sedita, not Frank Clark," he will say, and launch into the improvements he will make to the office.

There is a suspicion that Sedita, if he wins, will reward Case with a high-ranking job in the prosecutor's office.

Said LaVallee: "What backroom deal was made for Ken Case to dramatically change his agenda?"

Rozansky, however, said Sedita never discussed a job for Case during his endorsement interview, and it would have been improper for him to do so.

Both Sedita and Case say they have never discussed a job, either.

"Ken is a well-qualified prosecutor," Sedita said in response to the question about a job for case. "But again, I am going to be very straightforward about this, I make no promises in return for endorsements."

e-mail: mspina@buffnews.com

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