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LOCKPORT – Timothy C. DePetris, the Niagara Falls businessman who pleaded guilty Jan. 29 to trying to kill his brother-in-law, said today he wants to withdraw that plea.

Defense attorney E. Earl Key said he was withdrawing from the case, but Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas told him to attend the next court date April 23 just in case. It may include sentencing, the judge said.

“I’m not automatically going to assign counsel. He can retain counsel or be interviewed by the Public Defender’s Office,” Farkas said.

Key said he believes DePetris would qualify for a free lawyer. At one time, DePetris was president of the Electro-Dyne Choke Co. in Niagara Falls and a member of the Chairman’s Club for high rollers at Seneca Niagara Casino. At an early court appearance in the case, Key said DePetris lost over $1 million at the casino.

DePetris pleaded guilty as charged to attempted murder and six other counts in exchange for the dismissal of a second indictment accusing him of trying to hire a hitman to complete his failed attempt to kill Sandro Viola, now 57, at the latter’s office March 26, 2013.

Viola was shot in the right shoulder; two other shots missed.

Viola was president of Integrated Controls USA on Hyde Park Boulevard. He was visited by two men posing as pizza deliverymen.

The attempt to hire a hitman from jail, monitored on jail phones, included Viola as well as a witness as targets.

DePetris faces a 25-year maximum sentence on the attempted murder charge.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com