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Pridgen's truck used in crimes, police say

A parolee used a pickup truck owned by the Rev. Darius G. Pridgen -- and taken without permission -- to kidnap and rob a Buffalo teenager last fall, authorities said Thursday.

The teen's mother says the parolee, on a later occasion, tried to run her and her son down with the vehicle.

Jonathan Singletary, 28, has since been placed on "Buffalo's Most Wanted" list.

Pridgen said Singletary, who was working on Pridgen's campaign for the Common Council, did not have permission to use the truck.

Describing himself as a crime victim, Pridgen said Thursday he had no idea Singletary was using his pickup, which he had loaned to people working on his successful campaign for the Ellicott District Council seat.

Singletary, a volunteer campaign worker, was known to have had run-ins with the law, Pridgen said.

"We were trying to help him get back up on his feet," he said.

But the 1995 Dodge Dakota became a crime vehicle, according to Maria Ryles.

In late September, she said, Singletary forced her 17-year-old son into the truck at gunpoint after confronting him in a Bailey Avenue clothing store.

Singletary then drove her son to an unknown neighborhood and robbed him of $100 and a cell phone before ordering him out of the vehicle, Ryles said.

The youth also was ordered not to look back or he would be shot, according to Northeast District police.

Several days later, Ryles said, she took her son to a store to replace the stolen cell phone. Singletary walked into the established, but fled after spotting them, she said.

"We began shouting for someone to call the police and followed Singletary out into the parking lot," she said. "I got pictures of his truck and the license plate with my cell phone as he tried to run us over."

With images of the license plate, she said, police were able to trace the truck's owner through motor vehicle records. Her son, she said, also picked Singletary from a police photo array.

Pridgen said he feels that Singletary made him a crime victim by illegally using his truck.

"The truck was available for campaign workers to put out signs. Possibly without authorization, he used the truck, which, in turn, made us both victims of a crime," Pridgen said. "I had no idea he had the truck. It was at campaign headquarters on Genesee Street."

Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said an investigation is continuing, but Singletary is wanted on a parole violation.

"It would be wise for him to turn himself in to police," Richards said.

State prison and parole records show that, before being paroled last April, Singletary served time in the Attica Correctional Facility for attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Ryles says she also hopes Singletary surrenders.

"All I want is justice," she said.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com

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