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PURSE SNATCHER WHO HURT 2 GETS PRISON

Warren Freeney, a frequently arrested Buffalo car thief and purse snatcher, today was ordered to serve 25 years to life for brutalizing two women in supermarket parking lots last year.

State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti imposed the maximum prison term on Freeney, 38, and rebuked him for his life of crime and for the injuries he caused his latest victims while on parole for a similar crime seven years ago.

Freeney, of Humboldt Parkway, was convicted Aug. 25 of robbery, forgery, reckless driving, stolen-car and stolen-property charges after a weeklong jury trial.

Prosecutor Gary W. Hackbush, who pressed for the life term, said Freeney was paroled in March 1997 from his prison term for a 1991 Buffalo robbery.

He was arrested and jailed July 2, 1997, after a high-speed chase through city streets in a stolen car.

Freeney got out of jail on bail late on the afternoon of Aug. 9, 1997, and drove a stolen car into the parking lot of a Tops Market at Grant and Amherst streets at about 7:45 p.m., Hackbush said.

There, Freeney pulled up to the vehicle of a 67-year-old West Side woman loading groceries into her car. He grabbed her purse and dragged her about 10 feet before driving off and leaving her with a broken foot, the prosecutor said.

Only two hours later, Freeney drove into the Wegmans supermarket lot on Dick Road and George Urban Boulevard in Depew and accosted a 55-year-old Cheektowaga woman. He dragged her alongside his car for about 40 feet before making off with her purse, Hackbush said. That woman suffered eye injuries, the prosecutor said.

Early the next morning, Buffalo police spotted Freeney driving the stolen car on Genesee Street and, after a 45-minute, high-speed chase, arrested him again, the prosecutor said. Hackbush said both of Freeney's latest purse-snatching victims have recovered but their money never was found.

Hackbush said Freeney served brief prison terms for nearly identical Buffalo stolen car and purse snatchings in 1989 and 1991.

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