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Richard A. Boccio, 82, Erie County's chief public defender for 20 years

Jan. 18, 1935 – April 8, 2017

Richard Anthony Boccio, an attorney who was chief public defender for the Erie County Legal Aid Bureau for 20 years, died April 8 in Beechwood Continuing Care, Getzville, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 82.

Born in Buffalo, he attended School 6 and graduated with honors from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, where he received a gold medal as top mathematics student.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business at the University of  Buffalo, completed UB Law School in 1958 and later that year was admitted to the New York State Bar.

He served in the Army for six months of active duty stateside, then served six years with the New York National Guard in the Judge Advocate General’s Section of the 27th Armored Division.

Mr. Boccio joined the Erie County Legal Aid Bureau in 1958 as an assistant attorney in the Criminal Case Division. Named chief public defender in 1961, he built the staff of the Public Defender’s Office and organized office procedures. He served as mentor to the young lawyers he hired, several of whom have become judges and leading local defense attorneys.

In 1981, he went into private practice and served for many years as chief counsel for the Erie County Office of Child Support Enforcement. He retired in 2010.

He was a member of the Buffalo Legal Aid Bureau and Public Defender Committee, which hosted the National Legal Aid and Defender Association Conference in Buffalo in 1964.

Mr. Boccio often gave guest lectures at UB Law School.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, the former Anne Marie Sebastiano; four daughters, Mary Ann Maggio, Donna Sleap, Nancy Condren and Joan Wightman; a son, Richard J.; a brother, Frank J.; a sister, Joan M. Guarino; and 12 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered April 12 in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, Amherst.

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