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May 12, 2013

Tensions rising over private investigator in Town of Niagara


Tonawanda News — “It makes you feel creeped out,” Horton said.

Ryan Thomason, who lives next door to Clark, said he approached the green Pontiac, snapping photos of the vehicle’s license plate and attempting to get some shots of the person inside. Thomason said the vehicle’s tinted windows obscured his view as did its occupant who attempted to block him by placing a sunscreen over the vehicle’s windshield. 

“He’s got the whole town in an uproar right now,” Thomason said. “He’s making a lot of people very uncomfortable.”

Clark recently followed one of the cars — the red Acura — after it spent some time parked in his neighborhood. Clark said the trail led him to Richards Motor Service, the auto garage owned by the town supervisor. Photos posted on Clarks’ Facebook page show Richards talking to the vehicle’s occupant while the pair are standing in the parking lot at his auto repair shop. 

Clark’s convinced the investigator has been asked by Richards to follow him and others who, like him, have been interviewed by the FBI in connection with its work on an “ongoing matter” involving what Richards has previously described as “town business.” 

“This is ridiculous,” Clark said.

Rich Halleen, a member of the Niagara-Wheatfield School Board and owner of Halleen’s Automotive on Military Road, spotted the red Acura parked across the street from his shop last week, leading him to believe that he too is being watched. 

Like Clark, Halleen has been interviewed by FBI agents and state investigators on various issues involving the town. The Halleen family also has been at odds with Richards over various issues in recent years. 

As a private business owner, Halleen said he sees no reason why someone investigating an insurance claim would have any interest in him or his shop. He believes something else is going on. 

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