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Justice spares toll taker prison term

David A. Dudkowski, a former Thruway toll taker, was spared a jail term Friday after prosecutors told the judge he has fully repaid the $24,000 in toll revenue he stole in recent years.

State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller told Dudkowski he was being spared a prison term because of his otherwise clean record and because full restitution is always the judge's main concern in such cases. Dudkowski, 54, of Olmstead Avenue, Depew, could have received up to seven years on his Nov. 5 third-degree grand larceny plea.

Dudkowski retired before his plea, ending a 32-year state career. He did not speak during the sentencing, but defense lawyer Richard F. Daly told the judge the former state worker is "extremely remorseful."

The judge placed Dudkowski on probation for five years, ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service and to pay a $50 DNA fee because, as a convicted felon, he now will be in the state's DNA registry.

Dudkowski declined to comment as he left court.

Prosecutor John C. Doscher said Thruway Authority supervisors confronted Dudkowski when he reported to work Aug. 4 at the Williamsville toll barrier. The prosecutor said Thruway officials had begun an investigation after noticing what seemed to be lower-than-normal toll receipts at the Williamsville toll barrier where Dudkowski was assigned.

After being confronted, Dudkowski quickly admitted that for a year or so he had been routinely altering the authority's computer system data on the amount of fares he was collecting, apparently using the stolen funds to pay for personal items, the prosecutor said.

Both Doscher and District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III lauded the work of State Police Investigator John McCusker on the case. Sedita noted Dudkowski pleaded guilty to the highest criminal charge an Erie County grand jury could have lodged against him.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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