Lockport dentist sentenced to 5-year prison term

Louis Serace

A Lockport-based pediatric dentist was rebuffed in his plea for leniency Monday afternoon by a State Supreme Court justice who told him he had already received a deal.

“Didn’t I give him leniency already by giving him a a cap (on a potential prison term) of 5 years on (a maximum possible prison sentence of) 15 years?” Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. asked.

With a wave of his hand, Kloch told Dr. Louis Surace there would be no more mercy for his guilty plea to sexually abusing a child under the age of 17.

“You think I’m giving you (the minimum possible prison term of) 3 1/2 years? You think I’m gonna take a day off that 5 years I committed to? No way,” Kloch said. 

He then sentenced Surace to 5 years behind bars and 15 years of post-release supervision for his guilty plea to a charge attempted first-degree criminal sex act against a child. The charge carried a potential prison sentence of 3-1/2 to 15 years and up to 20 years of post-release supervision, but prosecutors bargained the case to spare the victim from having to testify.

Surace, 58, was immediately taken into custody by court officers to begin serving his sentence. He had originally faced charges of first-, second- and third-degree sexual abuse and a count of endangering the welfare of a child. 

State Police investigators said they received a tip from Niagara County Child Protective Services workers that Surace had what was described as “unwanted sexual contact against a child younger than 17 years old” between 2013 and December 2018.

Prosecutors said the crime that Surace pleaded guilty to occurred on an undisclosed date in May or June 2017.

Although the victim was identified during the sentencing hearing, the Lockport Journal is withholding any identifying information to protect the victim’s privacy. 

During the sentencing hearing, Assistant District Attorney Lisa Bearhe attacked what she said were arguments that Surace should serve less than 5 years behind bars because he had been cooperative with criminal investigators and because the sexual assaults “were not premeditated.”

“The abuse went on for six years,” Bearhe told Kloch, her voice choking with emotion. “He is a sexual predator. He does not deserve one day less than the 5-year sentence.”

Surace, looking straight at Kloch, apologized to the judge for his crimes.

“I don’t know where to start for all of this. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I’m sorry for committing this horrible, shameful act. I don’t believe I’m a horrible person.”

“You’re acts were horrible,” Kloch replied. “I don’t judge people, I’m not God. But I judge their acts and your acts were horrible.”

Surace operated his pediatric dentistry practice on Professional Parkway. His lawyers said the practice is being sold and the proceeds will go to his victim.

“He will leave prison a pauper,” defense attorney Joseph Terranova said.

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