LOCKPORT – Lewis E. Huff Jr., a Niagara Falls man who, according to his attorney, underwent a personality change after receiving a heart transplant, will serve six months in jail for molesting five children.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. also imposed 10 years of probation, which started Thursday as Huff, 63, of 38th Street, was taken to the Niagara County Jail.
During his probation decade, Huff must pay a $20,000 fine and $1,375 in additional fees and surcharges. If he violates probation, he could be resentenced; he faced up to 20 years in prison for his five felonies.
However, when Huff pleaded guilty Jan. 16, the terms of the plea deal were that if Kloch decided that he needed to send Huff to state prison, he would be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas and go to trial, potentially facing much longer prison time if convicted.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello said, “There has only been a handful of times in this courtroom a man so desperately deserves state prison.” But she added that in order to secure a state prison term, the five children would have had to testify.
Donatello said all parties wanted to avoid that traumatic experience for the kids, whose ages when the abuse started were between 5 and 9. They were children of both genders, molested during 2012 and 2013.
Kloch went along with a recommendation from Donatello for a year of global positioning system monitoring of Huff after his release from jail. He also barred Huff from having any contact with anyone under age 18.
“He cannot be near kids, ever,” Donatello said. “He’s not safe. It’s not fair to Mr. Huff to put him in a position where he can re-offend. He can’t control himself.”
Defense attorney James J. Faso Jr. said, “His health is horrible. Who knows how much longer he has?”
Faso didn’t bring up Huff’s heart transplant five years ago in the courtroom Thursday, explaining afterward that he thought the atmosphere wasn’t right. Forgiveness was definitely not in the air.
The father of two of the victims told Huff, “You and I will both die, and I’ll still be hating you with every fiber of my being.”
“This has been a living nightmare,” another father said. “He has stolen from us the safety we are supposed to provide for our children.”
The two men, fighting their way through tears, berated Huff for a half-hour, and the defendant cried the whole time.
“You should be crying,” Kloch said.
“Everything that’s been done here is my fault,” Huff sobbed. “I’m so sorry. There’s no way to take this back.”
Faso said after court, “I still think that transplant had an adverse effect on his personality. This is a guy who never touched a child. His wife said he was a different person, mood swings, different likes and dislikes.”
Kloch said, “I have a pretty good idea why this happened. He’s a pedophile. Who knows why he’s a pedophile?”
“I don’t know why I did this,” Huff said. “I know I’ll never be able to forgive myself.”