Sheriff's deputy gets community service for roughing up tailgater

Jan 24, 2020

Former Erie County sheriff's deputy Kenneth Achtyl will serve no jail time for his conviction on charges of assaulting a fan outside New Era Field on December 3, 2017.

An Orchard Park Town Court jury found Achtyl guilty of reckless assault, falsifying business records and official misconduct. The charges involved a confrontation that left Nicholas Belsito with a broken nose and a concussion and Achtyl without a badge.

Erie County Sheriff deputy Kenneth Achtyl (l) arrested Nicholas Belsito in a New era Field tailgate lot.
Credit File Photo / Aaron Glazer

During the sentencing, Belsito lamented he spent a night in the Erie County Holding Center for charges which were dropped while the former deputy didn't serve any jail time.

Defense lawyer Rodney Personius said Achtyl received a strongly favorable pre-sentence report, recommending the sentence.

"To get a probation report of that quality and that character in a case that is this high-profile says a great deal about the probation officer that put that report together," Personius said. "Talk about courage and courageous, that was courageous on her part to put together the report and make the recommendation that she did in this case."

Sheriff Timothy Howard said it is difficult to see what his deputies saw in the melee.

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard talked with reporters at the courthouse.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"It's been my reluctance or my concern, is that a body camera or looking at video footage, by itself, is never going to predict an accurate picture of what really happened," Howard said. "You need to freeze-frame it. You need to have an opportunity to look at anything else or from different angles and, obviously, one thing, very important, is to see it from the same angle that the officer saw it."

Howard also criticized Belsito's tailgating behavior and called Achtyl's career heroic.

"I gave it already and I think that the judge kind of echoed it," Howard said. "His behavior wasn't something that he should be proud of, nor should the deputy's behavior that particular day be proud. As the judge said, there's no winners here today."

Defense Attorney Rodney Personius leaving the courthouse Thursday evening.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Afterward, Personius said his client had no comment because he was planning an appeal, which he must do within a month.

Town Justice Jorge de Rosas sentenced Achtyl to 150 hours of community service, $250 for each count and $255 in court fees and DNA testing and gave the former deputy a conditional discharge.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn will be discussing the case Friday morning. His prosecutors had no comment after the sentencing.