Buffalo Man Charged for Stealing Bronze Statues from Forest Lawn Cemetery on Three Separate Occasions

Modified: April 14, 2021 3:43pm

4/14/2021

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 41-year-old Michael T. Piscitello was arraigned before Buffalo City Court Judge Lenora Foote-Beavers on Friday, April 9, 2021 on the following charges:

  • One count of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (Class “C” felony)
  • One count of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of Cemetery Desecration in the First Degree (Class “E” felony)

It is alleged that on April 1, 2021, at approximately 1:00 p.m., the defendant was found in possession of a bronze burning bush sculpture that he stole from a gravesite at Forest Lawn Cemetery. The sculpture has an estimated value of $100,000.00. The defendant is also accused of damaging the base and a portion of the statue while removing it, causing approximately $250.00 in damage. The defendant was arrested after he allegedly sold the item to a scrap metal recycler. The statue has since been returned.

Piscitello has also been arraigned on similar charges in two other separate criminal cases for allegedly stealing statues from the cemetery.

It is alleged that on January 20, 2021, at approximately 12:48 p.m., the defendant damaged a sculpture at a gravesite inside Forest Lawn Cemetery by cutting two bronze birds from a statue. The sculpture has an estimated value of $7,000.00. The defendant was arrested after he allegedly sold the stolen statue pieces to another scrap metal recycler. The cost of damage to the sculpture has yet to be determined.

Piscitello is charged with the following offenses:

  • One count of Criminal Possession of a Stolen Property in the Third Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • Two counts of Cemetery Desecration in the First Degree (Class “E” felony)

It is also alleged that on February 10, 2021, at approximately 1:36 p.m., the defendant stole a bronze ballroom dancer sculpture from gravesite at Forest Lawn Cemetery. The statue has an estimated value of $46,675.00. The defendant was arrested after he allegedly sold the stolen statute to a scrap metal recycler. The total cost of damage to the sculpture has yet to be determined, but estimated to be approximately $10,000.00.

Piscitello is charged with the following offenses:

  • One count of Criminal Possession of a Stolen Property in the Third Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • Two counts of Cemetery Desecration in the First Degree (Class “E” felony)

Piscitello is scheduled to return on all three cases on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. He was released on his own recognizance as the charges are non-qualifying for bail.

DA Flynn commends the Buffalo Police Department for their work in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Briana R.D. Miller of the DA’s Felony Trials Bureau.

As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.