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POLICE & COURTS

>Cash, jewelry taken in West Ferry robbery

Cash and more than $5,000 in gold jewelry were stolen Friday in a robbery at a clothing store, Buffalo Police reported.

Clerks at Lifestyle Street Gear told police that a man in his 20s entered the store at 284 W. Ferry St. with a gun. He stole cash from the register as well as earrings, rings and necklaces, the police report says.

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>Amherst man not guilty in harassment case

Thomas Frank of Amherst was found not guilty Friday of harassing Amherst Town Council Member William A. O'Loughlin during a board session last fall.

After a nonjury trial, Williamsville Village Justice Jeffrey E. Voelkl held that based on testimony by Frank, 55, a frequent visitor at town government sessions, O'Loughlin, and Frank's parents that village prosecutor Thomas E. Webb Jr. failed to establish criminal intent or prove Frank did not have valid legal reasons for attending the Oct. 3 board session.

Neither Frank, who served as his own attorney, nor O'Loughlin could be reached to comment. Webb did not return calls seeking comment.

Police arrested Frank for allegedly trying to interfere with a television interview O'Loughlin was conducting outside Town Hall.

Voelkl stressed that "this court should not condone poor judgment or bad taste but by the same token this court must not criminalize conduct which is protected by the First Amendment and does not violate the statute."

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>Missing woman's body found near Welland

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. -- The body of an 83-year-old Welland woman who had been missing for two days was found Friday in an isolated area off a country road about seven miles from the city.

The woman, whose name was not released, apparently took a wrong turn in her car and ended up on an unpaved extension of Willoughby Drive near Sodom Road, said Staff Sgt. Al Deroche of the Niagara Regional Police. The woman left her car and apparently set out to find a house in the area. Her body was discovered by a man who lives nearby. The woman's car was found a short distance away.

No foul play is suspected, and her death has no connection with those of five women whose bodies were found in the Niagara Falls region over the past decade, Sgt. Shawn Dowd said at the scene.

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>Asbestos removal firm is fined $500,000

A Virginia-based asbestos removal company was fined $500,000 Friday for violating the U.S. Clean Air Act during a major demolition project at the old Westinghouse Electric plant in Cheektowaga.

Officials of USA Remediation Services in Warrenton, Va., entered an unusual "no contest" plea in the case last October, declining to fight the felony charges filed against them. They were sentenced in absentia after failing to send a representative to the court of District Judge John T. Elfvin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin J. Littlefield said the violations took place in 1999, while the Genesee Street plant was being razed to make room for expansion of Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Authorities said USA Remediation had a nearly $1 million government contract to remove asbestos. They said company employees engaged in "illegal dry removal" of asbestos material, which is supposed to be soaked with water to prevent it from being inhaled by workers.

USA Remediation is in bankruptcy proceedings, Littlefield said.

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>College student faces child porn charges

A Louisiana State University freshman from Amherst was charged with 12 counts of possessing child pornography, the Associated Press said.

Aaron J. Campbell, 18, an electrical engineering student living in a university residence hall, was arrested Wednesday after an FBI investigation into online file transfers, according to authorities.

An undercover FBI agent spotted an Internet exchange of files "that depicted terms used in child pornography," LSU Police Chief Ricky Adams told AP.

Agents traced the files to the Internet provider at LSU and then to Campbell's personal computer, according to the the Daily Reveille, LSU's college newspaper.

The Reveille reported that, after obtaining a search warrant for Campbell's computer and his dormitory, police uncovered a dozen files with images of nude prepubescent children. In a police interview, Campbell admitted to possessing the images, the paper said.

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>Alleged slumlord liable, prosecutors argue

Joy A. Drati, the jailed alleged Buffalo slumlord, signed for all 59 of the properties purchased here by him and his company, JD Max Homes LLC of San Pablo, Calif., attorneys for the city and county argued Thursday.

City Housing Judge Henry J. Nowak reserved decision on a motion from defense attorney Alan D. Goldstein to dismiss all 325 pending ordinance cases lodged against Drati, 39, leaving his business as the sole defendant in the case.

Following a hearing, Nowak promised an expedited ruling on the issue of whether Drati is an agent and personally liable for the more than $700,000 to city taxpayers for fines and demolitions costs incurred so far.

Pending that ruling, the judge ordered Drati to remain jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail. Thursday, Goldstein argued that Drati only had "a managerial position" with his California company with "none of" the 59 West Side properties he managed here "clearly in his name" on deeds or other property-related documents.

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