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A former Buffalo-area debt collector pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud charges and agreed to repay two business clients and three banks more than $25,000.

Louis E. Shapiro, 46, of 227 Palmdale Drive, Amherst, admitted to State Supreme Court Justice Frederick M. Marshall that he swindled clients and wrote bad checks. Prosecutors didn't ask him to explain his motives in court.

Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Shapiro pleaded guilty to two felony counts of scheme-to-defraud and prosecutors dropped five counts of grand larceny and seven counts of issuing bad checks.

Indicted in August, Shapiro was ordered by the judge to make partial restitution to the Erie County Probation Department of at least $3,000 before sentencing Jan. 7.

Under the plea deal, Shapiro, former owner of the defunct Sterling Collections agency, at 4498 Main St., agreed to make full restitution of $25,206.80 to Goldome, Marine Midland and Central Trust banks and two clients.

Prosecutor John C. Doscher said the grand jury found that between January 1986 and June 1989, Shapiro was writing bad checks and failing to turn over money he collected for clients.

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