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A veteran prosecutor has been named to the third-highest post in the Erie County Law Department and assigned to oversee its busy civil litigation and Family Court operations, County Attorney Kenneth A. Schoetz announced Tuesday.

Schoetz said he hired Russell T. Ippolito Jr. to take over the job of second deputy county attorney which has been vacant since James A.W. McLeod was named by state court officials in October to a much-sought job as an Erie County Family Court hearing examiner dealing with child-support issues.

Calling Ippolito, 34, the kind of "quality" lawyer he was looking for, Schoetz said he will take over both McLeod's job as head of the Law Department's Family Court Division and also will oversee all civil litigation for the 19-attorney office.

District Attorney Frank J. Clark said he regrets losing Ippolito but is pleased to see the county law office selecting one of his top aides for the busy job.

"Our loss is surely the county attorney's gain and I'm just delighted to see Russ get this opportunity for professional growth," Clark said.

A veteran sex-crimes prosecutor who was one of the first prosecutors assigned to the district attorney's Domestic Violence Unit when it was formed three years ago, Ippolito last May obtained the criminal court conviction of Anthony Pitts in the Orchard Park nanny assault case.

Sentenced to a prison term of up to seven years last July by County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio, Pitts, 23, the son of Buffalo Bills assistant coach Elijah Pitts, is currently free on appeal bail after spending about six hours in custody.

After two trials, Pitts was convicted by a jury of using a rock to bludgeon a 27-year-old professional nanny shortly after midnight Aug. 7, 1996, while she was in-line skating alone in the 4000 block of North Buffalo Road, Orchard Park.

Ippolito received a criminal justice degree from Buffalo State College in 1986 and a law degree from UB Law School in 1989.

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