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Former lawyer held without bail

Hours after he was returned from Baton Rouge, La., a former Buffalo lawyer and fugitive from justice, whose home-building enterprise was shut down a year ago, was ordered Friday to remain jailed without bail.

State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski had issued a nationwide warrant for Steven Wisniewski, 47, after he failed to show up in court Jan. 8 with a $60,000 restitution payment. A bail hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Wisniewski was tracked down through the cell phone of April Januale, his girlfriend and former business partner, Assistant State Attorney General Michael McCabe said at Friday's hearing.

Wisniewski, a former Brant resident who had pleaded guilty Sept. 11 before Michalski to grand larceny charges linked to building scams in both Alden and Brant, had been free on $30,000 bail. He had been given months to come up with some partial restitution, but left the state instead.

He faces a prison term of up to 26 years on grand larceny charges lodged against him by the state attorney general's office and the Erie County district attorney's office.

Wisniewski still owes $126,000 on the criminal cases and another $331,000 in civil penalties linked to the home-building business that Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek shut down last April.

Michalek ordered Wisniewski and Januale to pay $331,000 in penalties.

Wisniewski, who co-owned Elite Custom Homes of Western New York, graduated from the University at Buffalo Law School in 1999. He was forced to resign from the legal profession during a state disciplinary proceeding.

In the attorney general's case, Wisniewski pleaded guilty to a grand larceny charge linked to a $120,000 deal to build a home in Brant.

Court officials said Januale, formerly of Irving, is believed to still be in Baton Rouge.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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