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Imprisoned Falls businessman who shot brother-in-law pleads guilty to bank fraud

Timothy C. DePetris, who is serving a 25-year state prison sentence for trying to kill his brother-in-law, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Buffalo on Wednesday to defrauding M&T Bank of about $177,500.

DePetris, 46, of Niagara Falls, was the owner of the now-defunct Electro-Dyne Choke Corp. in the Falls, which began to experience financial difficulties in January 2012, according to DePetris’ federal indictment. Between November 2012 and March 2013, he pocketed the money by cashing 42 paychecks made out to himself on an overdrawn company account, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

On March 26, 2013, DePetris and an accomplice, posing as pizza deliverymen, visited the office of his brother-in-law, Sandro Viola, at Integrated Controls USA in the Falls. Police said that DePetris fired three shots from a handgun and that one of the bullets struck Viola in the right collarbone.

After DePetris’ arrest four days later, prosecutors said he used the phones in Niagara County Jail to try to hire a hit man to kill Viola and the accomplice, who turned state’s evidence. The man he thought he had hired turned out to be an undercover federal agent.

DePetris ended up pleading guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to the maximum for that charge. During court proceedings, his then-attorney, E. Earl Key, said DePetris had gambled away almost $1 million at Seneca Niagara Casino. Now, DePetris, who is serving time in Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County, faces a potential 30-year federal prison term and a fine of up to $1 million for bank fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryEllen Kresse said DePetris had ADP, the company’s payroll firm, issue payroll checks to himself and another person, whom she did not name, even though DePetris knew the company didn’t have enough money in its account at M&T Bank to cover the checks.

The other person benefited from 18 of the bogus checks, according to the indictment against DePetris. DePetris used that person’s name and driver’s license to obtain the funds, according to the indictment.

The bank incurred a loss of about $177,500, Kresse said, citing the results of an FBI investigation directed by Special Agent Adam S. Cohen.

Senior District Judge William M. Skretny will sentence DePetris on March 10.