LOCKPORT – Dominic Saraceno, an attorney who had been a member of the Niagara County Conflict Defender’s Office, has been appointed to an assistant public defender position that had been sought by Niagara Falls Republican Party Chairman Vincent M. Sandonato.
Public Defender David J. Farrugia said Thursday he hired Saraceno for the $40,659-a-year part-time job last week. As a conflicts attorney, Saraceno handled a heavy load of felony cases, including last summer’s first-degree murder trial of Kingsmen motorcycle club hitman Andre Jenkins. Jenkins was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing two local bikers.
Farrugia said Saraceno has been assigned to work in Family Court. County Legislature Democrats severely criticized Farrugia for allegedly intending to hire Sandonato, a former legislator who was just sworn in as an attorney Jan. 13. At the Jan. 5 Legislature meeting, Farrugia promised to seek more candidates.
The primary difference between working for the Public Defender’s Office and the Conflict Defender’s Office is that the former still offers health insurance benefits, while the latter does not, although conflict salaries are slightly higher.
Lockport attorney Brian J. Hutchison was appointed to Saraceno’s conflict defender slot, handling about half of the felony cases as well as North Tonawanda City Court.