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Ex-tire manager gets jail for theft

A former tire manager for the West Herr chain of automobile dealerships was sentenced Friday to jail and ordered to repay an additional $120,000 of $160,000 he admitted stealing from the business.

Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk ordered Michael C. Czerwonka, 49, of Harvey Road, Grand Island, to begin a structured, four-month jail term, so Czerwonka can continue working and making payments of $1,000 a month for the next 10 years.

At the onset, he reports to jail at 5 p.m. Sept. 27 and remains there until 5 p.m. Sept. 29. He will then continue to serve two days a week in jail until March 30.

John C. Doscher, chief of the Erie County District Attorney's Special Investigations Bureau, told the judge the $120,000 in restitution is the most that can be forced on Czerwonka, who thus far has paid back $7,001.83.

Czerwonka began stealing from West Herr shortly after becoming manager of its wholesale tire operations in mid-2005. Fired in September 2007, Czerwonka also was forced to sign a confession of judgment for the total amount of his thefts.

Last Dec. 5, Czerwonka, to avoid a grand jury indictment, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny and two charges of falsifying business records.

Doscher said Czerwonka would fake tire-purchase forms and send checks to a fake tire company with the same business name as a defunct Western New York pizzeria he once co-owned.

The scam came to light when West Herr supervisors became curious about the number of tires Czerwonka claimed he had ordered, Doscher said.

The judge also placed Czerwonka on probation for the next five years.

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