Modified: November 30, 2018 3:45pm
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces 31-year-old James Trala of Buffalo has been sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller to an indeterminate sentence of 8 to 16 years in prison for a burglary spree he committed in October 2017.
His co-defendant and half-brother, 35-year-old Phillip Muzzy, Jr., was previously sentenced by Justice Boller to an indeterminate sentence of 4 to 12 years in prison for his role in the crimes.
An investigation spanning three counties revealed that between October 17, 2017 and October 27, 2017, the defendants burglarized a total of nine gas stations. The stores were located in Amherst, Buffalo, Holland, Town of Tonawanda, Wales and West Seneca. The defendants also burglarized gas stations in Genesee and Wyoming counties.
Each crime was committed in the same fashion: Muzzy drove to the gas station after it closed. Trala exited vehicle, threw a rock through the window, entered the store, and stole various items, including cigarettes, lottery tickets and cash.
Law enforcement conducted surveillance at multiple gas stations in an effort to capture the perpetrators. On October 28, 2017, Trala and Muzzy were apprehended while casing what could have been their tenth target.
For the crimes committed in Erie County, both defendants pleaded guilty to all of the charges in the indictments against them. Trala, a second felony offender, pleaded, as charged, to six counts of Burglary in the Third Degree. Muzzy pleaded guilty, as charged, to four counts of Burglary in the Third Degree.
DA Flynn would like to commend multiple police agencies for their diligence in pursuing these cases, including the following members of law enforcement: Erie County Sherriff’s Detective Jon Hanna, Erie County Sherriff’s Detective Cully Ferrick, Erie County Sherriff’s Detective Christian Parisi, retired Amherst Police Detective Cathy Onions, Town of Tonawanda Police Detective Russell Paternostro, and West Seneca Police Detective Dan Crowe.
“If it wasn’t for the diligent work of law enforcement in collecting evidence, reviewing crime patterns, and conducting an extraordinarily successful stake out, these crimes may never have been solved and the perpetrators never brought to justice,” said DA Flynn.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys James Marra and Danielle E. Phillips of the DA’s Felony Trials Bureau.