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Fire at collision shop slightly injures worker

NORTH TONAWANDA -- An employee suffered minor burns Thursday when a fire destroyed a collision shop.

North Tonawanda firefighters battled the blaze at Dan's Collision & Towing, 191 Oliver St., from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

James Miller, 41, of North Tonawanda, who was treated for minor hand injuries, was using an electric saw to remove a fuel tank from a vehicle when the tank ignited, Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Krantz said. Miller and another employee fled safely before flames engulfed the workplace, Krantz added.

Krantz said damages were estimated at $75,000 to the building, which was used to store machinery and for repairs, and $50,000 to its contents.

The building is owned by David Gademsky and leased by Daniel Habuda, who owns two other buildings, including an office and parking garage, at the site, officials said. The adjacent structures sustained no damage.

Krantz said all North Tonawanda units were summoned to fight the blaze. City of Tonawanda firefighters and volunteers from the Adams Fire Company were on standby.


Mother of 5 gets probation for role in cocaine ring

LOCKPORT -- A Cambria woman who was involved in the Niagara Falls-based Clayton "Iceberg" Green cocaine ring was placed on five years' probation Thursday by Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr.

Tanika M. McCreary, 27, of Cambria-Wilson Road, a mother of five, had pleaded guilty to fourth-degree conspiracy. She will have to serve 20 days in the county work program in addition to the probation. Green, the ringleader, pleaded guilty and is serving nine years in prison. Fourteen others also pleaded guilty.

Earlier this week, two other figures in the case were sentenced by Broderick. William LoBianco, 41, of Ashland Avenue, Niagara Falls, drew three years in prison for fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Derrick Stephens, 49, of Andrews Avenue, Cheektowaga, was placed on interim probation for nine months pending further sentencing. He had admitted to fourth-degree conspiracy.


2- to 4-year term set in Falls home break-in

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man was sentenced to two to four years in prison Wednesday by Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. for breaking into a woman's home in Niagara Falls on May 6.

Archie D. Nelson, 28, of Niagara Street, had pleaded guilty to attempted third-degree burglary. He originally was charged with sexually abusing the woman, but he did not plead guilty to that.


Cocaine charge brings three-year prison term

LOCKPORT -- Michael G. Kargatis III, 20, of 70th Street, Niagara Falls, received a three-year prison term Wednesday from Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. for selling cocaine.

Kargatis had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted third-degree sale of a controlled substance for selling nearly an ounce of cocaine to police informants in Niagara Falls on three separate occasions in 2005.

In another cocaine case, Tequilynn K. Laster, 30, of 17th Street, Niagara Falls, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on charges of third-degree sale and seventh-degree possession. Police said he sold cocaine to an undercover officer July 13 in Niagara Falls.


Plea to drug charges kills case against others

LOCKPORT -- A Wheatfield man took full responsibility Thursday for an attempt to smuggle marijuana, pleading guilty in Niagara County Court and clearing the way for charges to be dismissed against his live-in girlfriend and another woman.

Sean P. Sweeney II, 29, of Elder Creek South, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree criminal possession of marijuana and was scheduled for sentencing March 8 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

The judge then threw out the charges against Sweeney's girlfriend, Michelle Raverinni, 22, and Sara Domenech, 22, of Michigan Avenue, Niagara Falls.

The three were arrested May 6 at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls and accused of trying to sneak 3.89 pounds of marijuana into the country.


Judge rejects plea bargain in counterfeit money case

LOCKPORT -- Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. refused to accept a plea bargain in a counterfeit money case Thursday after the defendant insisted she didn't know $14,100 in phony money was in a box in her dresser drawer.

"She's telling me she didn't commit a crime," Broderick said of Nicole T. Shelton, 23, of Michigan Avenue, Niagara Falls.

First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist thought he had lined up a plea to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, with an agreement not to refer the case for federal prosecution. But Broderick said, "Maybe there should be a federal prosecution."

Shelton was arrested June 24, 2005, by Secret Service agents.

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