CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Buffalo man was arraigned in State Supreme Court on a 13-count indictment Thursday morning after allegedly attempting to forcibly steal a purse from an 80-year-old woman in April, according to the Erie County DA’s office.

Michael Sawyer, 32, has been charged with the following:

  • One count of:
    • Assault in the first degree (Class B violent felony)
    • Attempted robbery in the first degree (Class C violent felony)
    • Robbery in the second degree (Class C violent felony)
    • Strangulation in the second degree (Class D felony)
    • Grand Larceny in the fourth degree (Class E felony)
    • Assault in the third degree (Class A misdemeanor)
    • Tampering with a witness in the fourth degree (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Two counts of:
    • Endangering the welfare of a child (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Four counts of:
    • Criminal contempt in the second degree (Class A misdemeanor)

Sawyer allegedly attempted to forcibly steal a purse from an elderly woman outside a grocery store on Harlem Road in Cheektowaga around 5:15 p.m. on April 5. While driving a stolen vehicle, he reportedly grabbed the handles of her purse as she held on. She was dragged by the vehicle and fell, resulting in serious injuries.

The woman, from Snyder, was later taken to ECMC for treatment. She was reportedly hospitalized for several weeks due to head trauma and other serious injuries. She continues to recover.

The stolen vehicle was later found on Miller Avenue, near Broadway, in the City of Buffalo. When confronted, Sawyer reportedly attempted to flee in the vehicle and was taken into custody after a brief chase.

He was arraigned in Cheektowaga Town Court and held on $200,000 bail.

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The vehicle used in the robbery was allegedly stolen April 1 just after 10:30 p.m., after Sawyer reportedly punched and slapped a woman multiple times during an argument inside a Buffalo home. He has also been accused of strangling the woman to the point of unconsciousness using his hands, throwing her to the floor.

The victim suffered a concussion and bruising. The assault reportedly occurred in the presence of two young children. After the assault, Sawyer is said to have taken the woman’s phone, preventing her from calling for help. He then took her keys and vehicle. He was arraigned on charges for that assault on April 7.

While in custody, Sawyer allegedly called the victim of the April 1 assault, knowingly violating an order of protection, as well as attempting to make contact with the victim through a third party, to prevent the victim from going to court to pursue the charges. A temporary order of protection remains in place on behalf of the victim and her children.

Sawyer is scheduled to return to court on June 15 for a pre-trial conference. If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

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Sawyer also has two criminal cases pending in Cheektowaga Town Court, with further proceedings for both cases set for Tuesday. Both cases stem from alleged incidents in which Sawyer sped off during traffic stops.

The first, on Nov. 28, 2021, around 5 p.m., a Cheektowaga Police officer pulled Sawyer over after he changed lanes without signaling on Broadway, near Dick Road. According to the DA’s office, he allegedly drove off as the CPD officer approached the vehicle, driving recklessly and speeding away, onto Borden Road. An arrest warrant was filed and he was arrested an arraigned in December. He was released on his own recognizance.

The second, on March 22, 2022, a Cheektowaga Police officer reportedly recognized the defendant driving a vehicle with expired registration and lapsed insurance, near the intersection of Richard Drive and Shanley Street. As the officer executed a traffic stop on S. Ogden Street and approached the vehicle, Sawyer once again sped off, and reportedly drove recklessly into the City of Buffalo. The vehicle was found unoccupied outside Sawyer’s residence and a warrant was issued. He was arraigned on the charge following his April 5 arrest.

Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.