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Eloff appears in federal court

Robert E. Eloff, the Buffalo police officer accused of using excessive force while working off-duty security at Molly’s Pub, was back in federal court today.

Eloff appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott to ensure that he has a lawyer to represent him. Defense attorneys Herbert L. Greeman and Aaron F. Glazer have been representing him for months.

The appearance came just a week after the FBI charged Eloff, 40, with striking a Molly’s patron months before his already well known encounter with William C. Sager Jr., the Air National Guardsman who died after the bar manager pushed him down stairs at Molly’s in May of last year.

Investigators claim Eloff used his position as an off-duty cop working security to punch the patron in the eye, then knee him in the head while he was in handcuffs. The allegations are part of a federal criminal complaint charging him with violating the civil rights of two victims from Molly’s.

The other victim, according to the FBI, was Sager’s friend, Donald Hall.

Hall, a key witness at the murder trial that convicted bar manager Jeffrey J. Basil of second-degree murder, was trying to find out what had happened to Sager that night in May and, at one point, asked Eloff for his name and badge number, the FBI says.

Eloff responded by falsely arresting and handcuffing Hall, investigators say.

Sager, who was pushed down a flight of stairs by Basil, suffered a devastating brain injury and died several weeks later.

In the prior incident, Eloff is accused of approaching a patron, identified only as R.D. in court papers, placing him in handcuffs behind his back and taking him to the side of the bar and punching him in the face.

The incident was witnessed by two people who say R.D. did not resist and screamed, “Stop.” One of the witnesses, according to the complaint, recorded the incident on his cellphone but was forced by another officer to delete the video.