Police have made one arrest related to a bloody altercation in February at a Third Street bar while detectives continue to probe whether race was a motivating factor in the attack.
Daemon M. Kraft, 35, was apprehended on a warrant earlier this month in relation to the assault, which took place at Rust Bar, 462 Third St. He was charged with second-degree assault, according to police.
Earlier this month, Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto characterized the investigation into the assault as “active” and said detectives were looking into what he described as “racially motivated allegations.”
The law enforcement investigation began Feb. 25 after a city cop was on routine patrol in the 400 block of Third Street. The officer said he witnessed a fight outside the bar, stopped and saw “several employees” flee wearing hard-knuckled gloves as he approached, according to the incident report.
Left outside the bar, the officer found a bloody faced 21-year-old victim dazed on his birthday night.
The Niagara University student had his left orbital bone fractured, according to his attorney, Mark Della Posta. The victim’s nose was bleeding and he appeared concussed, a witness to the incident said, adding his friend’s eye would be swollen shut for days.
“They dragged the (victim) outside of the bar,” the witness said in an interview with the Niagara Gazette. “They held the kid’s arms back while about three of them basically pounded his face in.”
Before the victim was transported from the scene for medical care, the responding officer attempted to talk to staff but was refused. He requested the bar produce its liquor license and was ignored by multiple “bouncers,” the report said. Eventually an unnamed female “manager” produced the certificate.
The establishment is operated by Marie T. Basile, according a recent “doing business as” document filed in Niagara County courts.
Basile’s husband, Todd A. Biro, is a frequent presence at the bar with a long history of criminal charges and apparent ties to white supremacist groups, including one that has been deemed an active “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit.
Police have not charged Biro or Basile in relation to the assault.
Basile’s name is not on the bar’s license, but a William K. Biro and Pamela M. Ormsby are listed, according to state records. The state Liquor Authority has previously charged the bar with listing a convicted felon, Ormsby, on the certificate, which is prohibited by state law, according to SLA spokesman Bill Crowley.
The attack witness, a fellow student at the university who requested anonymity out of concern for his safety, has submitted a statement in relation to a civil claim the victim has lodged against Rust. Both the victim and the witness have spoken to police about the matter.
The witness to the incident described the attack on the victim as unprovoked. Della Posta echoed the description.
The Gazette has chosen not to identify the victim, a white male, who was said to be visiting the bar with his African-American girlfriend. The interviewed witness said he believed the attack was motivated by race.
“That is the reason that we believe (the victim) got assaulted, because he brought his girlfriend who is African-American into the bar,” the witness said.
Della Posta said he “could not comment at this time” regarding whether the allegation of racial motivation in the attack would have a place in any civil claim. The 21-year-old victim could not be reached for comment, but Della Posta said his client is in the early stages of the legal process.
DalPorto said any determination regarding a hate crime charge would not be the decision of the local police.
“That would be up to the (District Attorney’s) office,” he said.
The Gazette attempted to reach Biro and Basile at a series of telephone numbers listed on legal documents and elsewhere, all of which were either not in service or went unanswered. In addition, the two did not respond to letters and messages left with the bar.
When the Gazette requested comment from Niagara University, officials declined to speak about the matter, but two emails obtained by the Gazette show the school is aware of what may be multiple incidents at Rust.
The Gazette described the emails to a spokesman for the university, who did not dispute their veracity.
“I wanted to inform you all that there has been many issues going on regarding the local bar Rust,” wrote Liam Cuddy, a community adviser at the university, in an email to students in one of the school’s dormitories.
Cuddy referenced “several NU students” that had allegedly “been severely beaten and hospitalized due to the actions of some of the staff.”
“There have also been cases of racially charged remarks made by the staff,” Cuddy alleged, saying it was “important to both the campus and myself that everyone remain safe and stay away from this bar at all costs.”
In March, the school’s Dean of Students, Jason Jakubowski, emailed a warning to the student body after an individual reported being “physically assaulted” at Rust in February.
“As your Dean, I feel the responsibility to alert you to this report so you can make informed decisions going forward,” he wrote.
The bar remains incorporated under its former ownership name, Nashville North, LLC with the state Liquor Authority. Biro is not listed as an owner or operator in available records, but in November signed an advertising contract on behalf of the bar with the Gazette’s sales office that was subsequently canceled.
Publicly available media suggest Biro’s affiliations with white supremacy ideals, supporters and groups.
In a YouTube video posted under the username “Melissa Lacy” titled “Biro Wedding (1),” Biro is depicted with a group of other caucasian men looking directly into the camera as they chant “white power” and give a Nazi salute. Later, the video shows Biro handing Basile a telephone, saying that on the other line was an associate in prison who was going to “get off the phone and kill a (racial epithet for African-Americans).”
“That’s one of our brothers in prison right now screaming ‘white power,’” Biro said in the video, uploaded on Valentine’s Day two years ago.
In addition, multiple social media posts show Biro beside Scott Lacy, a public supporter of “White Lives Matter” that has been featured on news reports locally and in other states. Lacy is affiliated with the Aryan Renaissance Society, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The center, which did not respond to a request for additional comment, designates the ARS as a “neo-Nazi” hate group, while describing White Lives Matter as another “neo-Nazi group that is growing into a movement as more and more white supremacist groups take up its slogans and tactics.”
The Anti-Defamation League calls the ARS “a small but long-lived white supremacist” organization resembling “both a racist skinhead group and a prison clique at times.”
Biro and Lacy have also been featured on an internet-based talk program called the “Rahowa Radio Show.” The program was introduced by “Creep,” a distorted, low-register voice that explained “Rahowa” as a reference to “Racial Holy War.”
A promotional poster for the episode publicized the name “Todd A. Biro” with a photograph above the phrase “White Lives Matter.” When Biro appeared on the program with Lacy about a year ago, the host of the show identified the pair as “our ARS brothers in Niagara Falls, New York.”
Eighteen minutes into the program, a voice introduced as Biro’s discussed hypothetical disagreements between “skinheads” and “klan members.”
“I sit back and ask myself who, who is that truly hurting? Is it hurting our enemies? Is it hurting the Muslims or the blacks? Or these other races that are wishing our extinction?” Biro said.
As the recording continued, Biro goes on to claim that his ideology is misunderstood, discussing a writer he described as important to his beliefs whom claimed that “our hate is supposed to be for” what Biro said were “traitors of the white race” and “not for other races.”
The audio program, which had less than 100 views at the time the Gazette listened to it, was removed from its host site www.Spreaker.com earlier this month.