Second ringleader of organized retail theft ring pleads guilty

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The second ringleader of an organized retail theft ring in Erie County that caused around $70,000 in losses pleaded guilty to an enterprise corruption charge, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

Sloan resident William Lewis, Jr., 38, admitted to being a member of the group. He, along with 45-year-old Rico Small, oversaw a group of individuals who stole items from various retailers across Erie County in exchange for financial compensation, according to officials.

Officials said Lewis and Small, along with others, would then sell the stolen merchandise for profit. The thefts are believed to have taken place from October 2022 through September 2023. The stolen merchandise was recovered from locations across Buffalo, including Koons Avenue, Langmeyer Avenue and Kingsley Street. It included clothing, household items and electronics.

As part of the plea, Lewis agreed to forfeit his ownership of the stolen merchandise that was seized during the investigation, according to officials.

Small was sentenced to 1 1/3 to four years in prison in March on one count of enterprise corruption. He faced up to 25 years in prison.

As for Lewis, he pleaded guilty to the same count of enterprise corruption. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 18.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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