Saturday, December 8, 2007


Even friendly Gasport is not free of the ills of society. One of our businessmen was convicted of racketeering last night in federal court. Here is the abridged version of the Buffalo News story...

Niagara man convicted of racketeering charges
By Dan Herbeck

Niagara County businessman David R. Cain Jr. and two family members were convicted late Friday of running a violent gang that threatened, bullied and attacked business people in rural areas of Niagara and Orleans counties.

After a hard-fought racketeering trial in federal court, Cain was convicted of 17 felony charges that, according to prosecutors, will put him behind bars for a minimum of 50 years. His brother, Christopher, and cousin, James Soha, were convicted of five felonies each. Authorities said they face mandatory prison terms of at least 10 years each.

The convictions brought jubilant reactions from prosecutors and Niagara County police officials, who had feared the worst if Cain was put back on the street. In recent years, police said, David Cain had brazenly threatened a judge, two prosecutors, a detective and many witnesses. He had even burned the private car of a Niagara County sheriff’s deputy in the driveway of the deputy’s home.

In racketeering charges filed in 2006, federal agents accused David Cain Jr. of organizing and running a gang of criminals who threatened, vandalized and attacked Cain’s business rivals. His brother and cousin were accused of helping him. Cain was determined to run the largest tree-trimming and logging business in Niagara and Orleans counties, and he decided to accomplish his goal by driving others out of business, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce said.

Loggers and tree-trimmers who competed with Cain lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and vehicles in a series of arsons and vandalism incidents, Bruce said. According to police, Cain and his associates committed many violent acts that intimidated people in rural communities such as Newfane, Yates, Medina, Barker and Hartland.

“To me, these people are nothing but desperadoes,” said Niagara County Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein. “They threatened and intimidated honest business people and showed no respect for the law at all.”

Among the victims who testified were Dan Gollus, who ran a Lockport tree-trimming business, and Keith Kent, a logger from Orleans County. Kent testified that Cain and his henchmen nearly put him out of business after he and Cain had a falling-out over a proposed $40,000 lumber deal. After vandalism attacks that destroyed a truck and other equipment, Kent said, Cain screamed threats and insults at him one day in 2003. One of Cain’s alleged henchmen testified that he tried to ram a bulldozer into Kent’s house, but the vehicle ran out of gas before it could reach the building.

Gollus said Cain threatened to kill him and twice ran him off the road while driving a huge logging truck. One day after a disagreement with Cain in July 2004, Gollus testified, his beloved 1949-vintage airplane erupted in flames inside its hangar in Royalton. The uninsured plane was a total loss.

At another fire scene, at a tree-trimming business in Newfane, prosecutors said that Cain Jr., Soha and others ignited 100 cords of firewood and 30 tons of wood pellets. The February 2002 fire destroyed two dump trucks and caused flames that soared so high they could be seen in Buffalo, 40 miles away.

David Cain operated a treetrimming and logging business in Gasport and a junkyard in Middleport before he was jailed after his grand jury indictment.