Kenneth Achtyl Avoids Jail Time in Sentencing

Former Sheriff's Deputy convicted in assault on Buffalo Bills fan

WBEN Newsroom
January 23, 2020 - 8:00 pm
Kenneth Achtyl arrives in court

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WBEN) – Former Erie County Sheriff’s Deputy Ken Achtyl was sentenced on Thursday evening to 150 hours of community service and will pay more than $1,000 in fines following his brutality conviction of Nicholas Belsito outside a Bills tailgate in December 2017.

Achtyl faced up to two years in jail after he was convicted of reckless assault, official misconduct, and falsifying records. All of the charges were misdemeanors.

Belsito was arrested by Achtyl at the Bills tailgate after he swore at the officer. During his arrest, Belsito suffered a broken nose and a concussion.

Leading up to the incident, Belsito was seen near the arrest of Dylan Lowry, who allegedly threw a beer can at the officers. Lowry was taken into custody. Seven minutes later, Belsito approached the window of Achtyl’s police cruiser wondering where Lowry was going. Achtyl told him “10 Delaware”, though Belsito didn’t understand and was told to “beat it” several times.

Once Belsito understood “10 Delaware” meant the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, he walked away but not before swearing at the officer. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“There are no winners here,” Orchard Park Town Justice Jorge de Rosas said at sentencing.

De Rosas said that there was no reason for Belsito to be proud of what happened and pinned some of the blame of the incident on the actions taken by his tailgate party.

Prior to the sentencing, Belsito told the judge that he has the utmost respect for law enforcement, but described the experience as “painful” and “humiliating”. Belsito said he never received an apology from Achtyl and criticized Sheriff Tim Howard’s description of Achtyl as a “hero”, based on the former deputy’s nearly 20-year history with the department.

Belsito wanted Achtyl to go to jail.

“The same jail I had to go to for no reason,” Belsito said.

Achtyl, who may appeal the sentence and is facing a civil lawsuit by Belsito, did not speak at sentencing at the suggestion of his attorney, Rodney Personius. Personius highlighted decades of Achtyl’s life that was dedicated to public service including volunteering with Eden Police and Fire, his past work with the NFTA, and multiple instances of Achtyl saving lives while working with the sheriff’s department.

 Personius said that the 20 years of service by Achtyl was lost due to the 30-second incident.

Achtyl did not address reporters upon leaving town court.

Sheriff Tim Howard was among the several members of the sheriff’s office to attend Thursday night’s sentencing in support of Achtyl.

“I was elated by (the sentence),” Howard said. “I certainly don’t think jail time would have been appropriate...He routinely put himself at risk, as do many other police officers, for the sake of the community. His overall performance of his professional career ended, unfortunately, with a 30-second lapse of inappropriate behavior. His life and his service as a police officer is best described as heroic.”

Howard described the sentencing as a eulogy at a funeral, but defended criticisms he has received of calling Achtyl a hero by saying perception often becomes reality.

“I can’t control perception,” Howard said. “I think people should always try to think for themselves and not let people make a decision based on what someone tells you. If anyone knows about this individual and hears the things he did, anybody who is open-minded and honest cannot see that as other than heroic.”

A civil suit against Achtyl has been filed in federal court. Belsito’s civil attorney, Aaron Glazer, said that the discovery phase will finish in October and a trial date will be set after that.

Glazer said he’s confident “for a thousand reasons” that he will have success in the civil trial against Achtyl.

“The strength of the case, strength of the victim, the egregiousness of the conduct, the standard of the civil case, you name it,” he said.

Achtyl is now working for UPS.

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