Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announced that 50 year-old Vernon Thomas of Buffalo was convicted, as charged, of Attempted Assault in the First Degree after week-long trial before State Supreme Court Justice Deborah Haendiges.
On September 29, 2012, Thomas became enraged after his girlfriend received a telephone call from another man. Enraged, Thomas feigned an illness so he could leave work and lay-in-wait for his girlfriend. Thomas threw gasoline on his girlfriend and threatened to set her on fire when she arrived home. Fortunately, a concerned neighbor intervened. The victim reported the attack several hours later, prompting the police to arrest the defendant. The case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Rachel Newton, who is the Chief of DA Sedita’s Domestic Violence Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Alicia Lilley.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The District Attorney’s Office and BE SAFE Domestic Violence Advocacy Program is joining the statewide “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” campaign spearheaded by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. To raise awareness in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the District Attorney’s Office will also begin a telephone drive for the Verizon Wireless HOPELINE program, which enables the public to old cell phones to be refurbished and provided to domestic violence agencies and local governments for use with victims of domestic violence within that geographic area. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office BE SAFE Advocacy Program is a confidential program which provides victims of domestic violence with counseling, referrals, advocacy services, court accompaniment and safety planning. The BE SAFE Program will be collecting phones through November 1, 2013. For more information about the phone drive or the BE SAFE Program please call (716) 858-4635.
Thomas is no stranger to the criminal justice system; he is a prior felon with thirteen prior misdemeanor convictions as well . Thomas faces maximum term of fifteen years in state prison when he is sentenced on December 3, 2013 before Justice Haendiges.