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Former owner of arson site released from jail

Dale Acker, the Delevan carpenter who once owned the Wende Street house where a Buffalo firefighter was critically injured battling an arson, was released from jail Thursday after serving 18 days for housing code violations at another property.

City Housing Judge Henry J. Nowak said he will not impose fines because he wants all the money Acker can come up with devoted to reimbursing the city for demolishing both houses.

Nowak released Acker on $5,000 bail. He had jailed him June 11 after Acker had failed to show up in court to answer code violations on the Wende Street house and another on Best Street.

The judge sentenced Acker, 43, to time served for the Best Street violations and put off sentencing in the Wende Street case until at least July 26. Buffalo housing inspection officials had pushed for a 300-day jail term and $30,000 in fines on both properties, which Acker bought in 2003 for $1 each.

Firefighter Mark Reed had a leg amputated after being critically injured when a chimney fell on him while he was fighting the arson at the vacant Wende Street house June 10.

After Thursday's court session, Acker said his heart goes out to the hospitalized fireman. His wife, Ann Marie, said her family is "so sorry" for Reed's injuries and that she continues to pray for him.

Acker's attorney, Samuel P. Davis, stressed that there were never code violations regarding the chimney while Acker owned the Wende Street house.

Davis said Acker had tenant problems at both properties before losing them to city 12 months ago. He said Acker also became a victim of the city's "cottage industry" of looters who stole lucrative copper piping and expensive woodwork from both properties.

The attorney said Acker, who had been jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail on both properties, will sign a confession of judgment agreeing to slowly repay the city the costs of demolishing both homes. He said he anticipates Acker, who has several home repair jobs linked up on the Delevan and Colden areas, can come up with a "modest" initial payment to the city before July 26, when Nowak wants him back in court.

During mid-morning court proceedings, it was disclosed that Acker had actually sold both the Best Street and Wende Street properties in October 2006. After the court session, Davis said Acker was prosecuted for housing code violations that had been found at both properties while he still owned them.

On June 11, the day after the fire, Nowak issued an arrest warrant for Acker, who had failed to show up in Housing Court last January for sentencing on the code violations. Last week, Acker told the judge he had failed to show up because he had been given "incorrect" court documents by court officials.


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