Keith W. Pillich, a local real estate investor who served a brief prison term a decade ago for a $1.5 million investment scam, has been sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison for collecting rent on a West Avenue house he never owned.
State Supreme Court Justice Ronald H. Tills had Pillich, 52, of Eltham Drive, Amherst, taken from court in handcuffs about noon Wednesday after he brought $2,500 in cash to repay the couple who gave him a down payment on buying the house.
Pillich pleaded guilty Oct. 25 to third-degree grand larceny for the nearly $6,000 in rent he illegally collected between October 2004 and early last April on the West Avenue home he didn't own.
John C. Doscher, chief of the Erie County District Attorney's White Collar Crime Bureau, said Pillich last year illegally took possession of a vacant house in the 600 block of West Avenue and rented it to a couple with four children for $700 a month on a so-called "rent-to-own basis."
When Pillich kept stalling the couple on their efforts to purchase the property, they checked city records and discovered it belonged to a couple now living in Syracuse, Doscher said.
The tenants lodged a complaint against Pillich with the Buffalo Police Department and he was arrested last April 13.
Doscher confirmed that Pillich still faces a shoplifting charge before Amherst Town Justice Mark Farrell for his arrest last May 15 at Home Depot in Amherst, and sentencing Jan. 9 by Chief City Judge Thomas P. Amodeo on a criminal contempt charge linked to an ongoing Housing Court case.
According to court records, Pillich taped bar codes from smaller sheets of Plexiglass on three large sheets he bought last May 15. An undercover Amherst police officer arrested him in the store parking lot, according to court records.
Pillich faces sentencing before Amodeo Jan. 9 on his Oct. 26 guilty plea to a misdemeanor contempt of court charge for violating Housing Court Judge Henry Nowak's order to stay away from a Parkdale Avenue house he owned, which is the subject of Housing Court ordinance violation proceedings.
Pillich was charged with failing to repair the building and was cited for contempt after being spotted there last April 1.
A decade ago Pillich spent less than four months in state prison for a $1.5 million investment scam involving many elderly investors.