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Ex-skycap sentenced in theft
News Staff Reporter
The former head of an investment company started by skycaps at Buffalo Niagara International Airport will go to prison if he does not make monthly payments on the money he stole, a judge said Monday.

Danny Harris Sr., 49, of Grand Island, was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch to five years of probation after his lawyer, Joel L. Daniels, turned over a $25,000 certified check made out to the skycaps' SCCS Future Investors.

The judge warned Harris, who embezzled $97,472.22, to pay off his gambling debts. He also warned him that, if he fails to make any of his court-ordered $300 monthly restitution payments for the next 10 years, he faces a prison term.

The judge also ordered Harris to begin professional counseling for his gambling problems and submit to random drug and alcohol testing and treatment if needed.

John C. Doscher, chief of the Erie County district attorney's White-Collar Crime Bureau, said that the $36,000 in restitution is believed to be "the most [Harris] can realistically be expected" to make.

Harris, who pleaded guilty April 10 to second-degree grand larceny charges for using investment funds his fellow skycaps have been giving him between January 2001 and June 2005 to pay off his gambling debts, declined to comment.

Doscher said Harris had been regularly pulling funds from the bank account of the investment group he and his fellow skycaps had created - and which he had been chosen to manage - and spending that money at casinos.

Doscher said that, because skycaps can each earn upwards of $100,000 a year with tips from airline passengers, Harris and some of his co-workers decided in the late 1990s to incorporate an investment company to handle their money.

Last year, Harris' fellow investors contacted the district attorney's office after finding that investment group's bank accounts contained "a lot less than" they expected and Harris refused to turn over the company books to them, Doscher said.