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Three plead guilty to forging petitions County employees face 3 years' probation each

Nicholas Page, deputy Erie County parks commissioner, and two other county workers, pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor election law crimes linked to forged nominating petitions filed last summer.

Page; his son, Thomas; and Dennis Vitale pleaded guilty before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller to the misdemeanor election law crime of misconduct.

The judge said the three would each receive three years of probation when sentenced Nov. 2.

Nicholas Page, 66, of Lowell Road, Town of Tonawanda; Thomas Page, 25, of Breezewood Commons, Amherst; and Vitale, 49, of Washington Avenue, Kenmore, are free on bail.

Neither the defendants nor their attorney was available to comment.

Prosecutor Jeffrey J. Hagen, who oversaw the investigations, declined to comment. He directed the probe into Republican Party nominating petitions circulated during the 2006 campaign for Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico.

Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark launched the election-fraud probe in January at the request of the Erie County Board of Elections officials. Clark was unavailable to comment.

Neither D'Amico, a County Court judge since 1987, nor anyone on his election campaign was ever under suspicion in the fraudulent petition probe.

D'Amico, even though he abandoned efforts to get the Republican line in the party primaries after a court suit over the GOP petition, easily defeated his opponent, Aurora Town Justice Douglas W. Marky, the GOP candidate in the general election.

A lifelong Democrat, D'Amico was undersheriff and chief criminal deputy to Erie County Sheriff Michael A. Amico from 1970 to 1977.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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