Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2016 Issue

Long Prison Sentences Issued in Killing of Comic Book Collector

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Scene of the crime – Homer Marciniak's home in Medina, New York.

The two key players in the crime that led to the killing of a comic book collector have been sentenced to prison terms of 20 years for their role in the case. Mastermind Rico Vendetti, 45, of Rochester, New York, was convicted of racketeering. Donald Griffin, 28, also of Rochester, was convicted of committing murder in aid of racketeering. Earlier, Arlene Combs, who was the go-between for Vendetti and Griffin, was also sentenced to 20 years for racketeering.

 

The scheme that ended in the death of 78-year-old Homer Marciniak of rural Medina, New York, began back in 2005 with petty thefts. Vendetti, who operated a tavern in the Rochester area, put together a ring of shoplifters. They hit numerous large stores, such as Walmart, Target, Sears, Home Depot, and JoAnn Fabrics. What they stole was not expensive merchandise, but mostly ordinary items in large quantities. According to the U.S. Attorney for Western New York, those items included "breast pumps, Crest Whitestrips, cross stitch and needlepoint kits, electric toothbrushes and replacement heads, computer memory sticks and flash drives, pet supplements and DNA tests for pets, razors, razor blades and replacement razor heads, tool sets, vacuum cleaners, binoculars, batteries, plumbing fixtures and KitchenAid mixers." Vendetti paid his shoplifters 25 cents on the dollar for what they stole, and then sold it for 50 cents on the dollar, primarily through eBay or similar places. Over $700,000 worth of merchandise was sold this way, making one wonder how they were able to get away with so much shoplifting for so long without being caught.

 

In 2010, Vendetti stepped up his plans. He became aware that Marciniak, a retired janitor of modest means, had a valuable comic book collection. He had been collecting comics since he was a boy, with the result that some were very old and quite valuable. Vendetti got Combs to assemble a crew of three thieves to break into Marciniak's home and steal his comic book collection. Each was to be paid $1,000 for their efforts.

 

The three, Griffin, Albert Parsons, and Juan Javier, cut Marciniak's phone line and broke into his home in the early morning hours of July 4, 2010. Unfortunately, Marciniak awoke and confronted the thieves. Griffin responded by punching Marciniak in the face, and he and Javier then tied the homeowner up with bed sheets. Javier also threatened him while holding a BB gun. The three burglars then located the comic book collection, which they took, delivered to Combs, who then delivered it to Vendetti.

 

Marciniak was able to free himself after they left and obtain help. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries. He was then released, but later that day, suffered a massive heart attack. Marciniak already suffered from a serious heart condition. He was readmitted to the hospital that afternoon, but died a short time later. Medical experts concluded that the trauma of the event, and the blow to his face, directly contributed to Marciniak's heart attack and death later that day.

 

Vendetti professed great sorrow and remorse at sentencing, but evidently, the Judge was not impressed. He described Vendetti as a "Darth Vader" type, with no good qualities. Vendetti, Griffin, and Combs will all begin serving their 20-year sentences. Javier, who was only 17 at the time, was sentenced to seven years. Two others, who also participated with Vendetti in racketeering and conspiring to sell stolen merchandise, were sentenced to terms of 46 and 55 months, and another to time served. Only Parsons has yet to be sentenced, with his sentencing due this month.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.

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