Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2015 Issue

Thief Charged with Murder of Comic Book Collector Pleads Guilty

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Homer Marciniak's home in Medina, New York.

One of the defendants in the robbery and murder of an elderly comic book collector has pleaded guilty to the Rochester, New York, area crime. Donald R. Griffin, 37, was not the ringleader, but the blow he allegedly delivered to 78-year-old Homer Marciniak may have been the primary cause of his death. Griffin is scheduled to be sentenced on February 3.

 

The ringleader of this "enterprise" was one Rico Vendetti, owner of a pawnshop and bar in Rochester. However, he made his big money, reportedly as much as $40,000 - $50,000 a month, through a different business venture. Vendetti hired people to steal stuff, all kinds of stuff and lots of it. Most of it came from stores. He would pay them a small portion of its retail value and then put it up for sale online. Ebay was his favorite sales vehicle, though he also used Craig's List. Items that he sold ran all the way from razor blades to Rogaine, anything with a viable online market.

 

Homer Marciniak was a western New York comic book collector. Marciniak was not a wealthy man. He was a retired janitor. He wasn't out buying million dollar Superman first editions, but he loved comic books and had been collecting them since he was a boy. His collection has been valued at $30,000 - $100,000. Marciniak was especially proud of the collection, and perhaps that is how Vendetti became aware of it. He hired a bunch of his friends to visit Marciniak's home and relieve him of his comic books.

 

One of those men was Griffin. On July 5, 2010, they broke into the house, where the elderly man was sleeping. The noise woke him up and Marciniak came out to see what was going on. It was then that Griffin allegedly struck him in the face. The men then tied him up. Marciniak suffered cuts and bruises and was later taken to the hospital. He was patched up and released, but later that day, suffered a heart attack and died. Prosecutors attributed the heart attack to the trauma he had suffered during the robbery.

 

Vendetti and some of his associates have already pleaded guilty. He, too, is awaiting sentencing. Vendetti was allowed to plead guilty to racketeering and charges other than murder. That plea was entered so as to avoid the life in prison term that could have come with the murder charge. However, his much deeper role in the criminal enterprise will likely earn him a long sentence. One estimate is 20 years, though the judge will have the final say. As for Griffin, it is unclear. He seems to have been something of a bit player in the entire criminal enterprise Vendetti ran, but he is also the one who decided to commit violence on a 78-year-old man when confronted in the hall. Why he chose to do such a thing, and get himself charged with murder is hard to fathom. If he had limited himself to a few threats and made the man sit down, he probably would be looking at a year or two in jail, with a chance for parole even sooner. Presumably he is facing something far longer now. The criminal mind is hard to understand.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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