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Mugging mastermind gets 5 years

Fernando Rivera, the mastermind behind the violent mugging and brutalization of an off-duty NFTA bus driver, was sentenced Monday to spend up to five years in state prison.

Rivera, 27, who along with two other City Mission residents assaulted and robbed John Morrisey 15 months ago, was sentenced after pleading guilty to robbery and reckless-endangerment charges.

Prosecutor Sara N. Ogden said Rivera has been jailed since he, Benjamin Cortz, 25, and Jettzel Felix-Marcano, 24, were arrested in Morrisey's car in Iowa about five miles from the Nebraska border two days after they robbed the victim May 23, 2010, in his Bayview Avenue home in Hamburg.

Bound and left with his mouth covered by duct tape, Morrisey was rescued a day later by fellow Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority workers who went to his house looking for him, Ogden said.

The prosecutor said Morrisey had met the three in an Allentown steak shop May 22, 2010, and when he saw them there again the next night, he drove them to his Hamburg home, only to be assaulted and locked in his basement.

In addition to the victim's car, the three stole about $2,500 cash and some clothing, Ogden said.

Cortez's attorney, Jeffrey J. Abate, and Felix-Marcano's attorney, Mark A Sacha, convinced a jury that both were unexpected accomplices of Rivera, and both were convicted of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Jailed since their arrest in Iowa, both Cortz and Felix-Marcano, at the request of their attorneys, were sentenced the day of their jury verdict to time served and were released from custody.

Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico presided over the case.


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