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Buffalo man gets seven years for 15 Niagara County burglaries

LOCKPORT – Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III imposed the longest sentence he could – seven years in prison and three years of post-release supervision – on a man who confessed to 15 house burglaries in Niagara County in 2013.

Shane D. Higgins, 44, of Woodside Avenue, Buffalo, had pleaded guilty March 25 to attempted second-degree burglary in relation to a break-in on West Creek Road in Newfane on Sept. 30, 2013. Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said that was “one of 15 burglaries the defendant ultimately admitted to when debriefed by an investigator from the Sheriff’s Department,” but the plea bargain included a promise not to prosecute him for those.

One of the victims said in a letter to Murphy that her family lost $18,000 worth of personal property, but Sloma said because the case wasn’t prosecuted, no restitution could be ordered.

Defense attorney David C. Douglas blamed Higgins’ spree, which included the participation of his daughter and son-in-law, on addiction to opiates originally prescribed as a painkiller because of a work-related injury.

Higgins said, “It all happened within six weeks. My wife cut me off from the money and all I cared about was getting high.”

Murphy said, “I don’t have any sympathy for you. You hurt a lot of people.”

Higgins’ son-in-law, Robert A. Woodruff, 31, is serving a five-year prison sentence, while Higgins’ daughter, Ashley L. Woodruff, 26, is in the judicial diversion program of court-supervised drug treatment.