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LOCKPORT – Paul S. Turley, who was convicted in absentia of molesting his stepdaughter and stepniece, pleaded not guilty Thursday to a new indictment accusing him of first-degree bail jumping.

Turley, who took off after jury selection was completed for his trial last Jan. 23, was found guilty five days later. He and his wife were captured Feb. 21 in a trailer park outside Tucson, Ariz.

Turley’s wife, Diane G. Turley, later pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and served a 90-day jail sentence.

Turley, 48, who was convicted of first- and second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and first-degree sexual abuse, is in Auburn Correctional Facility, but confusion surfaced Thursday as to how long he will be there.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas sentenced Turley on May 10 to 15 to 30 years in prison. However, the state prison website says Turley is serving 16 and two-thirds to 32 years.

The problem appears to be whether the charges were properly classified as violent or nonviolent felonies. They were rated nonviolent by Farkas at the time of Turley’s sentencing.

The minimum sentence for a violent felony is longer than for a nonviolent felony of the same level, although the maximum sentence doesn’t change.

The sentence is supposed to be based on what the law was when the crimes were committed.

Turley, who lived in North Tonawanda at the time of the incidents, was convicted of molesting the girls repeatedly between 1996 and 1998, along with a single incident with one of the girls in 2003. The victims didn’t come forward until November 2011.

Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict, who represented Turley at the bail-jumping arraignment before Farkas, said there seems to have been “a technical error” in Farkas’ original sentence.

“We have to tweak the minimum,” Farkas said. She said the matter will be ironed out in another court appearance Feb. 20, after an effort is made to see if Turley’s trial attorney, D. Daniel Stevanovic, is willing to take part.

“I doubt he’ll want to appear,” Farkas said.

A conviction on the bail-jumping charge could add as much as seven years to Turley’s sentence. Farkas scheduled a tentative trial date of June 9.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com