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Former Buffalo cop apologizes for false arrest at Mollys Pub

Eloff to be sentenced on Wednesday
Posted at 5:12 AM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-08 09:47:17-05

Disgraced former Buffalo police officer Robert Eloff is apologizing for his actions, the night Bill Sager was pushed down the stairs inside Mollys Pub in 2014.

Eloff was convicted of a civil rights violation after arresting one of Sager's friends, Donald Hall, under false pretenses.

The former officer is pleading for leniency, ahead of his scheduled sentencing, Wednesday afternoon.

In one of more than 36 letters sent to the court on Eloff's behalf, obtained by 7 Eyewitness News, Eloff writes, "I overreacted and let my emotions get the better part of me," when he arrested Hall.

Charges against Hall were dropped days after Sager was pushed by Jeff Basil, inside the University Heights bar.  Sager later died from his injuries.

Eloff says, "I cannot apologize to Mr. Hall enough for that night...I pray for Mr. Sager and his family every week at church."

Sentencing guidelines suggest Eloff should spend six months to a year in jail.

"The question is whether or not, when measured against his emotional and unplanned response to [Donald Hall], his acts should lead to incarceration," Eloff's attorney wrote in court documents.

His attorney is asking for probation instead.

"A sentence of probation is still a serious sentence," Eloff's attorney wrote in court documents.  "As the Supreme Court has noted:...Offenders on probation are nonetheless subject to several standard conditions that substantially restrict their liberty."

Eloff was forced to resign from the Buffalo Police Department as a condition of a plea agreement.

"He is no doubt embarrassed and ashamed of the damaged that caused," Eloff's attorney wrote in documents filed in federal court.  

According to court documents, while the case was moving through the court system, Eloff's mother died unexpectedly.  "He feels guilty about his mother's death because, in some ways, he feels that the strain of the instant case played a role in her death," Eloff's attorney wrote.

Eloff, according to court documents, has admitted Hall's arrest, with handcuffs from his vehicle, was improper.