With police sharing few details, it's still not clear what led to a deadly confrontation between a 61-year-old Albion man and a Sheriff's deputy outside of the Log Cabin Restaurant last night.
According to sources, Keith Kent may have gotten into some type of argument after stopping at the restaurant for dinner while on his way home. The argument may have become physical and he may have been hit.
It's unclear what happened next, but a source said employees ushered themselves and customers into the basement once the disturbance started.
According to Undersheriff Gregory Walker, Kent was confronted by officers outside the restaurant at about 11 p.m. after receiving reports of shots fired. Walker said when officers first arrived on scene, Kent fired a shot. It's unknown what if anything he was aiming at. Officers, according to Walker, shouted commands at Kent but he did not obey them. When he turned toward a deputy and appeared to point his handgun at the deputy; the deputy fired at least one round that struck Kent and killed him.
Kent owned a logging business in Albion, Jordan River Logging, on Route 31A. According to news reports going back to the early 2000s, Kent was involved in disputes related to his business.
Orleans Hub reported today that Kent had complained in the past about how authorities handled his cases, including one where he was charged with felonies but a grand jury did not indict him following a hearing.
He was accused of taking far more trees than he was supposed to from a Barre woman. In an agreement, Kent was to take 40 trees but was accused of taking close to 200.
Kent, 61, complained to friends and neighbors, and in letters sent to newspapers, that he was wrongly prosecuted with the charges, hurting his reputation and business.
Kent also said his business was destroyed by the “Rutherford-Cain gang” from Niagara County, who were rival loggers. Kent in an email to the Orleans Hub on June 29, 2017, saying the two from Niagara County caused him “eight years of hell on earth, including vandalisms, thefts, arson and attempts on my life.”
According to a 2007 article in the Buffalo News, David Cain, then 38, was convicted in Federal Court of 17 felony charges, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, three extortions, two mail frauds, five arsons, three tamperings with witnesses, conspiracy to tamper with witnesses, and evidence tampering.
His brother, Christopher, and cousin, James Soha, were convicted of five felonies each, including racketeering.
David Cain was eventually sentenced to 55 years in federal prison.
In 2011, Kent sent a letter to several publications, including the Medina Journal-Register, accusing Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone of using incidents stemming from the Cain criminal activity to "create" a crime against him, even though Kent has assisted in the prosecution of Cain.
Although the Grand Jury soundly rejected issuing an indictment for “timber theft,” through highly suspect means, a lesser indictment was obtained against me. Judge Punch swiftly ruled to dismiss all charges, stating, “... the evidence before the Grand Jury was legally insufficient.”
What was your true motive, Cardone, had I not just handed you the key witnesses that gave you no alternative but to indict David Cain Jr., who was later sent to federal prison for 55 years? I had essentially rid Western New York of the worst gang of criminals in the last century after enduring a living hell at their hands. Until I brought you the witnesses and gave you no choice, I received no help at all from you. Was my arrest your attempt to destroy my name and all I’ve worked for because I embarrassed you into doing your job?
Kent sued Cardone and lost, with a court ruling that Cardone had "absolute immunity."
For Kent, the dispute seems to have remained unresolved, according to Orleans Hub:
Kent in his email to the Orleans Hub said he was terrorized for eight years while law enforcement did nothing to protect him or his family. He said he was treated “shamefully” by District Attorney Joe Cardone, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshals.
The Batavian's news partner 13WHAM was able to conduct a short phone interview with Keith Kent's older brother, Gary, who described Keith as a family man who loved his children. He had a wife, two adult children, and four grandchildren.