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BOND RATING TAKES ON A NEW LOOK

LOCKPORT -- Niagara County's bond rating for 2001 looks different but really isn't, County Treasurer David S. Broderick said this week.

Moody's Investors Service rates Niagara County bonds at A3 in its latest report, Broderick said in a memorandum to county legislators. In previous years, Moody's rating for Niagara County bonds was A.

It's not a downgrade, Broderick said. "Moody's decided to subdivide their A rating into three classes," he said. "Unfortunately, they gave us A3." It's the lowest of the three A grades.

Broderick said most of the county's bond issues are insured, and once insured they are rated AAA, which is as good as it gets.

The other major municipal bond rating company, Standard & Poor's, has rated Niagara County an A since at least 1989.

The bond ratings are an attempt to guide investors on how much risk they're taking by buying a security. Broderick said the companies analyze the county government's financial condition and the overall local economy before making their ratings.

Man arrested in drug raid

NIAGARA FALLS -- A man was arrested late Thursday after city narcotics detectives confiscated 18 grams of suspected crack cocaine during a raid at the suspect's 13th Street home, Detective John Galie said.

The arrest capped a six-week investigation, Galie said.

Jake D. Searight, 21, was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, Galie said. The drugs had an estimated street value of $1,200, police said.

The raid occurred at 8 p.m. Scales and other drug paraphernalia were confiscated, Galie said.

Couple charged with endangerment

LEWISTON -- State police officers arrested a Walmore Road couple early Friday when they allegedly found them asleep in a car with their 9-month-old infant in the back seat, Sgt. Ronald Warner said.

"It was very cold, and there was no heat because the car wasn't running," Warner said. He said it appeared the couple had been drinking and passed out on Walmore Road between Upper Mountain and Mount Hope roads.

The baby was sent to Mount St. Mary's Hospital to be checked out and then temporarily placed in the care of a relative while Niagara County Child Protective Services investigate the incident, Warner said.

William L. McCarthy, 38, and Jena Brayley, 25, were charged with endangering the welfare of a child. They pleaded not guilty before Town Justice Thomas J. Sheeran and were granted an adjournment until Wednesday. They were remanded to Niagara County Jail on $500 bail each.

Suspect sought in theft of wallet

LOCKPORT -- Police are searching for a man who allegedly stole a wallet from a Pine Street man last week and used the ATM card to withdraw $280 from his bank account, Detective Edward Hackett said Friday.

The wallet was subsequently returned, with $40 missing, Hackett said.

Three stolen checks were cashed

NEWFANE -- State police are looking for a suspect who pilfered $6,100 from the checking account of a Coomer Road couple within the last week.

The victims said three checks were stolen and cashed, Investigator Jack Lyons said. The couple named a suspect, Lyons added,

About $2,200 stolen from gas station

LEWISTON -- About $2,200 was stolen late Thursday from the Tuscarora Trading Post gas station on Upper Mountain Road, apparently by an employee, Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy Antonio DiGregorio said Friday.

When the owner noticed the line of cars was backed up at her business at about 8 p.m., she said discovered the clerk had disappeared and so had the station's cash receipts, DiGregorio said.

Tax credit planned for car safety seats

ALBANY -- Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls, said Friday she is introducing a bill to give parents an income-tax credit for buying child car safety seats.

DelMonte said the state requires all children under age 4 to be in a safety seat, but the cost is a burden to some parents. Under her bill, the tax credit would equal the price of the car seat.

Two shock-camp escapees recaptured

MONTEREY -- Two teenage inmates who escaped from a minimum-security boot-camp lockup were caught and returned to custody.

The pair vanished from the state-run Monterey Shock Facility in this Finger Lakes village shortly after going to their dormitory Thursday night, authorities said. Both were sent there in late December for burglary.

Marquis Hill, 17, of Lockport, was quickly captured and returned to custody. State police arrested Charles Loster, 18, at 12:35 p.m. Friday on a street corner in Buffalo. Loster, who is from Buffalo, was taken without incident along with a male acquaintance.

Sentencing date set for Brooklyn man

LOCKPORT -- Sentencing has been set for March 8 for Samuel B. Person, who was convicted on 13 counts this week in a forged travelers' check case.

Person, 35, of Brooklyn, was found guilty Thursday by a jury after a four-day trial before County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Person was convicted on 11 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and one count each of second-degree scheming to defraud and fifth-degree conspiracy. Two other forged instrument counts were dismissed.

Person was one of four Brooklyn residents arrested outside the Prime Outlets Mall in the Town of Niagara on July 26. Town police said they found 301 bogus $100 travelers' checks in the suspects' van, and discovered that some of the checks had been spent on July 25 and 26 at various stores in the Town of Niagara, Wheatfield and Niagara Falls.

Christopher Bell, 41, pleaded guilty to a reduced count of attempted second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, and is awaiting sentencing. Dana M. Murdaugh, 19, and Dreena D. Moody, 39, both were sentenced to nine months in jail for third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

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