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Jury finds woman guilty of drug, robbery charges

LOCKPORT -- A Gooding Street woman faces up to 16 years in prison after a Niagara County Court jury convicted her late Friday of robbing a police drug informant and possessing crack cocaine in separate incidents.

Coco N. Spencer, 22, was found guilty of second-degree robbery and seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance. Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. set sentencing for April 27.

The jury deliberated about five hours before reaching a verdict about 10:30 p.m. It acquitted Spencer of another count of second-degree robbery, second-degree criminal mischief and third-degree sale of a controlled substance.

On June 23, an informant, wearing a digital recorder and transmitter, went to a Washburn Street residence to try to make a drug deal with Spencer, who was accused of displaying a handgun and smashing the $2,995 audio device with a hammer.

Friday, Curtis Hunter, 20, a defense witness, testified that he broke the device. However, prosecutors said the jury found Spencer guilty of robbery while being assisted by another.

Spencer, jailed without bail, still faces charges in an armed home invasion Dec. 11.


Clumsy cabbie robber gets 5 years' probation

LOCKPORT -- A taxi robber caught a break Friday from Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr., who sentenced him to five years' probation.

Jerome Newton Sr., 36, of Elmwood Avenue, Niagara Falls, had pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny. He pulled a knife on a Blue Taxi driver June 21 at 18th and Niagara streets in Niagara Falls. He stole $15 but fell out of the vehicle's open door when the driver floored the accelerator.

In another case before Broderick Friday, Marquis A. Prather, 22, of Swan Street, Buffalo, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was scheduled for sentencing April 28. Prather struck Daryl French of Lockport in the head March 7 with a baseball bat on 20th Street in Niagara Falls.


Man admits car theft; DWI charge dropped

LOCKPORT -- A man who was charged with driving a stolen car while intoxicated pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property last week in Niagara County Court.

Harrison Mozell, 24, of Fourth Street, Niagara Falls, is to be sentenced April 6 by Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. Mozell was arrested Jan. 14, 2005 in the Town of Niagara. The car had been reported stolen from a used-car dealership in Niagara Falls. The DWI charge was dropped in the plea-bargain.

In another case, Curt A. Boehnke, 41, of Hinds Street, City of Tonawanda, pleaded guilty to felony DWI and was scheduled for sentencing April 11 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza. Boehnke was arrested July 20 after his van ran into a ditch on Old Beattie Road in the Town of Lockport.


Felony drug charges filed against teenager

LOCKPORT -- Joseph A. Tagg, 17, was charged with felony possession of marijuana Friday after a raid by the Niagara County Drug Task Force at his home in the 6300 block of Robinson Road.

Police said a "large quantity" of marijuana was found at the home Friday night, but did not reveal the specific amount.


Convicted sex offender faces DWI, drug counts

NIAGARA FALLS -- A convicted sexual offender, believed to have been living locally for about three weeks without registering with police, was arrested Saturday morning and charged with drunken driving and other offenses, police said.

Donald C. Gates, 42, who gave police a Spruce Avenue address, was arrested just after 10 a.m. In addition to driving while intoxicated, he was charged with not wearing his seat belt, consuming an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.


Man forced out of bar, robbed by two assailants

NIAGARA FALLS -- A LaSalle-area man told city police he was forced outside a 19th Street bar early Saturday by two men who beat and then robbed him.

The victim said he was taken outside Denise's Place, at which point one of the men placed him into a headlock while the other rifled his pockets, removing $190 in cash. The victim was then beaten before his assailants fled.

The robbery took place about 3:30 a.m., police said.


Pit bull found near death amid deplorable conditions

NIAGARA FALLS -- Police checking a report Friday evening discovered "deplorable" conditions inside a Townsend Place home, including a nearly dead pit bull that had not been fed in days.

The dog, which also had no water, was removed by the Niagara County SPCA. The investigation continued Saturday.

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