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Home invader gets 7-year sentence

Nicholas Rizzo, still professing his innocence, was ordered Tuesday to spend the next seven years in prison, as Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio rebuked him for his role in a violent Amherst home invasion.

Rizzo, 21, of Tonawanda Street, and Carl Cooper, 34, of Lamont Place, were convicted Sept. 22 of being two of the three armed men who broke into and ransacked a Harding Road home at about 11 p.m. Jan. 8.

At the request of prosecutor Brian P. McNamara, Cooper's sentencing was put off to Nov. 6. The Erie County district attorney's office is preparing to ask that he be given a life term as a persistent felon because of four prior felony convictions.

The jury found Cooper and Rizzo each guilty of burglary, robbery, grand larceny and criminal mischief for the break-in.

Cooper was also convicted of a child-endangerment count involving harsh treatment of a 14-month-old boy whose mother they victimized. The bandits were reportedly waiting for the return of the mother's male friend, with whom they allegedly had a score to settle.

Authorities are still searching for the third gunman, McNamara said.

During the trial, the female victim, who is in her late 20s, said she was tied up with a shower curtain while the men ransacked the house of her male friend. She said they stole her sport utility vehicle, her cell phone, $50 in cash and about $4,000 worth of property from the house.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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