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Burglars sentenced for rash of home break-ins last fall

Four men who were part of a multicounty burglary ring have been sentenced for crimes that were committed in Erie County late last year.

John Battaglia, 49, of North Tonawanda was sentenced to six years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of second degree burglary.

James Baglio, 49, of Depew pleaded guilty to five counts of second degree burglary and one count of robbery and has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Battaglia’s stepson, Kyle Wade, 26, of Tonawanda and Matthew J. Ratel, 42, of East Amherst each pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and received sentences of five years probation.

Battaglia and Baglio, who reportedly met while working together as painters in Genesee County, were characterized by law enforcement as the ringleaders of the group. Together and with their accomplices they are suspected of burglarizing more than 30 homes in Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties between August and October 2015, possibly to feed their drug addictions. They reportedly executed the burglaries during the day when residents weren’t home, forcing their way in and grabbing easy-to-sell valuables such as firearms, jewelry and electronics.

The operation was busted in December when investigators executed a warrant at Battaglia’s North Tonawanda home and found a trove of stolen property.

Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour described it as being “like the pot at the end of the rainbow,” a cache of items the thieves had not had time to sell or pawn.

In addition to impersonal valuables, cash and prescription drugs, investigators also were able to recover a number of family heirlooms that could be returned to the victims, the sheriff said.

Not everything was returned. The Erie County Clerk’s Office has recorded more than a dozen judgments against Baglio, filed earlier this month, for amounts ranging from $500 to $7,500 and totalling nearly $24,000. The losses were incurred by households in Orchard Park, Alden, Elma, Clarence and Depew.

Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. praised the work of all agencies involved, which also included investigators Ron Wilson and Alan Harshany from the New York State Police and Detectives Matthew Noecker, John Graham and Greg McCarthy of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

Paul J. Glascott, chief of the DA’s Felony Trials Bureau, prosecuted the cases.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com

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