The day his trial was to begin in Niagara County Court, Roger L. Hueber Jr., a Niagara County Jail guard accused of sexually abusing teenage girls, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony and two misdemeanors.
Hueber admitted to reduced charges of attempted second-degree rape and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, satisfying a 20-count indictment that accused him of having sexual contact with underage girls over five years.
Hueber admitted a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl on Aug. 30, 1999; having sex with a teenage girl in front of a 12-year-old girl in December 2004; and showing a 16-year-old girl a pornographic videotape while persuading her to strip, also in 2004.
Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza said the stiffest penalty she can impose on Hueber is 1 1/3 to four years in state prison, since the maximum one-year sentences on the endangering counts have to run concurrently with whatever time she gives him on the attempted rape charge. Sentencing is set for May 1.
Defense attorneys David C. Douglas and Patrick M. Balkin said that by the time of sentencing, Hueber will have served three months since Sperrazza revoked his bail Feb. 2 for swerving his truck at one of the victims as she walked down a Lockport street. That means he will eligible for parole after another year.
Assistant District Attorney Caroline M. Wojtaszek said that, as a condition of the plea deal, Hueber, 42, of Caledonia Street, Lockport, agreed not to oppose his firing from his $49,940-a-year job. He had been suspended with pay from a month after his arrest in last March until his bail was revoked.
At that time, the county stopped paying him, Human Resources Director Peter P. Lopes said.
In signing orders of protection for the three victims, Sperrazza warned Hueber that no one -- including Meghan Doxey, his 18-year-old girlfriend -- is allowed to contact the victims on his behalf.
Doxey, who was not one of the victims named in the indictment, was arrested last year on a witness tampering charge.
Asked how Hueber's plea came about, Wojtaszek explained, "Our case got stronger [Monday] when we got a new statement from a witness."
The new testimony about one of the incidents wasn't the only thing that made Hueber decide to plead guilty, Balkin said. "He had to weigh all the potential circumstances," Balkin said. Those included his potential prison time and the fact that he still has children -- 8 and 14 years old -- at home.
Each of the eight Class D felonies in the original indictment carried a maximum seven-year prison term.
The victims included a special education student, now 17, who testified at Hueber's bail revocation hearing. Attorneys on both sides cited the desire to keep her and the other victims from having to testify again as a factor in setting up the plea deal.
The girl wrote about her encounters with Hueber in a journal read by a Lockport High School administrator, who contacted police, launching the investigation.
Sheryl Rucci, 33, Hueber's former girlfriend and the mother of his 8-year-old daughter, was last seen Aug. 9 and is considered a fugitive under a separate 12-count child-sex indictment.