A long-time Cheektowaga Sanitation Department worker has pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court to stealing money from the town, as a months-long investigation into a kick-back scheme came to a head this week.
Anthony Terranova, 52, a town employee for nearly 30 years, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of petit larceny before acting State Supreme Court Justice John P. Lane, Erie County Deputy District Attorney Christopher J. Belling said Thursday.
Another worker also is expected to take a plea deal on Monday.
Terranova is among the four Cheektowaga garbage truck drivers that police and the Erie County district attorney's office have been investigating for several months after the four were accused of making side deals with local businesses.
The drivers were accused of providing extra dumpster pickups, without reporting them, so the businesses wouldn't be billed. The businesses would then give the drivers kickbacks -- either cash, store discounts or food from the establishment.
It's still unclear what will happen to the two other workers being investigated. None of the businesses will be criminally prosecuted, Belling added.
Terranova, meanwhile, will be sentenced Oct. 21, Belling said. The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
Terranova, who has worked for the town since 1969 and the Sanitation Department since 1979, has no criminal record, said his attorney Mark G. Farrell.
"He is extremely remorseful and trying to put his life back together," Farrell said Thursday. "He probably knew it was wrong, but never realized it could amount to this."
This case was sent to an Erie County grand jury this summer, but Terranova took a plea deal before the jury decided whether to hand out indictments. Town officials accused Terranova of siphoning thousands of dollars in revenue away from the town by conducting many side deals with several businesses over the years. However, Terranova -- as part of the plea deal -- pleaded guilty to one count of petit larceny, reflecting side deals with just one Cheektowaga business from 1995 to 1998.
The town is seeking repayment from Terranova. Cheektowaga claims Terranova owes the town more than $20,000, Belling said.
"The whole issue of restitution is being discussed," Belling said. "He will be paying a significant amount of restitution to the town."
"Our major goal and concern right now is to recover taxpayer money," said Frank C. Max Jr., interim Sanitation Department chief who asked police to investigate the matter in February.
The four initially were suspended with pay, but town officials sent them back to work in April until the matter was resolved.