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Four New York men charged in murder of comic book collector

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four men were arrested on federal murder charges in upstate New York for allegedly killing an elderly man for his valuable comic book collection, authorities said on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York said the men broke into the home of Homer Marciniak, 78, in Medina, New York, to steal his collection of comic books, valued at $40,000.

During the home invasion in July 2010, the robbers beat Marciniak so badly he was hospitalized.

Marciniak was subsequently released from the hospital but was later readmitted to the hospital and died of a heart attack.

Charged in the crime were Rico Vendetti, 41, Arlene Combs, 26, Albert Parsons, 42 and Donald Griffen, 23, all of Rochester. All four men face life in prison if convicted of felony murder charges.

Two of the men, Vendetti and Combs, also face racketeering and witness tampering charges. Prosecutors allege Vandetti attempted to get potential witnesses to provide investigators with false statements, and that Combs told witnesses to keep silent if questioned.

The racketeering charges stem from the shoplifting of thousands of dollars worth of consumer products from such stores as Sears and Home Depot and selling the merchandise on eBay, authorities said.

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr.; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)