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POLICE & COURTS

HSBC bank on Clinton robbed by masked man

A masked man robbed the HSBC Bank branch at 1989 Clinton St. at 9:35 a.m. today, police said.

A teller reported that the robber, who had on a black, stretchy face mask and a black jacket, said: "I want fifties and hundreds or I'm going to hurt you. I have a gun."

The robber, who did not display a weapon, reached over the counter and grabbed a handful of cash, which included a dye pack.

The robber fled to Willet Street, where the dye pack exploded. According to police reports, the robber dropped the stolen money, then ran back to retrieve some of the dye-covered cash before getting into a small, older model taupe-colored car parked on Willet, police said.

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Sunoco station on Elmwood robbed for third time

For the third time in two weeks, a Sunoco gas station on Elmwood Avenue was robbed at gunpoint early this morning.

Clerks at the gas station at 460 Elmwood Ave. told police that a man brandishing a black .45-caliber handgun entered the store at 12:55 a.m. Jumping over the counter, the robber said, "Open the drawer. Open the drawer."

The man took an undermined amount of cash and then ran out and jumped into the passenger side of a dark Ford Taurus. The car headed west on Bryant Street.

The station was robbed Jan. 26 and Jan. 31. In both of those cases, the gunmen stole the cash drawers.

Police have identified the suspect in today's holdup but no arrests had been made Thursday.

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Fires in city damage house and business

Buffalo firefighters battled two blazes overnight.

The first fire was reported at 10:50 p.m. at a 2 1/2 -story house on Olga Place. The flames started in the house's attic, and Fire Department crews managed to contain the fire to the upper part of the house. Damage was estimated at $25,000.

One firefighter suffered a back injury fighting the blaze. The cause remains under investigation.

Then at 3:13 a.m., a fire broke out at Habasit Belting Co. at 1400 Clinton St. The blaze was started by an overheated oven in the business.

The fire caused $10,000 damage to the inside the structure.

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Ex-legislative aide gets jail for forged petitions

Stephen J. Hicks, a former legislative aide for the Erie County Legislature's Democratic Party majority, was taken from court in handcuffs Wednesday after a judge rebuked him for "besmirching the integrity of our political system while young Americans are dying in Iraq so they can have free elections."

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma sentenced Hicks, of Durham Avenue, to 60 days in jail and three years' probation for misdemeanor violations of state election law for circulating forged nominating petitions.

Forma denounced Hicks for "a lifetime permeated by fraud and theft," including two prior theft-related convictions and a 1995 welfare fraud plea.

Hicks will spend about 40 days in the County Correctional Facility in Alden, court officials said .

He was convicted of forging petitions he circulated in June 2004 for unsuccessful congressional candidate Fran Cartonia, who was not accused of any misconduct.

Hicks was fired as a legislative aide to Erie County Legislator Demone Smith after a county grand jury indicted him on felony and misdemeanor charges.

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Pregnant woman said father of baby attacked her

A pregnant woman reported to police that a man attacked her at her home on Gibson Street at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, puncturing her left forearm with a screwdriver and then kicking her in the right leg and backside.

The victim, who is five months' pregnant, identified the 18-year-old attacker as the father of her baby.

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Boy, 13, attacked by gang after visiting girlfriend

A 13-year-old Buffalo boy was attacked by a gang of youths Tuesday night on BFNC Drive, his mother reported to police.

The victim had just visited his girlfriend when he was approached by at least three youths, ranging in age from 11 to about 20, who beat and kicked him in the head. The attackers also took $20 in cash and the boy's sneakers.

The victim, who said he recognized his attackers, suffered a bloody nose and pain to his face.

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Buffalo man, 30, jailed in rape of girl, 16

SALAMANCA -- A Buffalo man was charged Sunday with two counts of rape and one count of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl, Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputies reported.

Robert J. Collins, 30, of Sobieski Street, allegedly lured the girl from her Salamanca home using the Internet and took her to an Allegany motel, where he had sexual contact with her, authorities said.

Collins was arraigned in Allegany Town Court and, after not posting $10,000 bail, was taken to Cattaraugus County Jail pending his next court appearance.

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