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POLICE & COURTS

Debra Lane fire blamed on careless cooking

A careless cooking fire inside a Debra Lane home Thursday afternoon left an 81-year-old woman critically burned. Her son also was burned when he tried to extinguish the flames on his mother, authorities reported.

The mother and son were rushed to Erie County Medical Center for treatment. Officials did not release their names late Thursday.

Fire officials said the blaze ignited inside 82 Debra Lane at about 1:57 p.m. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, which caused about $2,000 damage to the building and $1,000 damage to the contents.

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County Home resident loses car, cash to theft

A former Jefferson Avenue woman who is currently a resident of the Erie County Home and Infirmary is the victim of a theft, a relative told Buffalo police Thursday.

Her mother's 2003 Chevrolet Malibu was stolen between last March and Thursday. Also taken was about $35,000 from her mother's bank account, according to police.

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Drug arrest follows marijuana discovery

A South Buffalo man has been charged with possessing about 18 pounds of marijuana, police said.

South District Police Lt. Patrick Roberts and Officer Johnathan Clemons arrested Michael Scherer, 21, of Lester Street, at about 2:25 p.m. Wednesday after Roberts, who was investigating reports of suspicious people in the area, saw Scherer run into his home.

Police said they found 18 bags of marijuana -- each containing a pound of the drug -- in a closet of Scherer's upper apartment.

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Burns may keep boy in hospital for weeks

A boy hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns was among six youngsters playing with charcoal lighter fluid in a home in the city's Lovejoy neighborhood, fire officials said Thursday.

The boy, whose identity was not released, is expected to remain in the burn unit of Women and Children's Hospital for another week or two.

He has been hospitalized since last Friday when, fire officials said, he was burned shortly after 9 a.m. as he and the other youngsters intentionally ignited and burned their clothes in 93 Vanderbilt St. A 4-year-old girl watched, authorities said.

Tuesday, Fire Marshals Harold Emerson and Edwin Ortiz and Lt. Sal Colangelo arrested two 13-year-old boys who authorities said were part of the group.

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Figure in fake 911 calls sentenced in theft case

Juan Merced, initially the key figure in a continuing investigation of fake 911 calls made from his family's home a year ago, pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of misdemeanor attempted possession of stolen property.

Merced was charged after he was seen carrying a furnace out of a Vermont Street home during a daylight incident Nov. 7. Buffalo City Judge Patrick M. Carney imposed the maximum 90-day jail term on Merced, who already is in jail.

Since Dec. 1, Merced, 50, has been serving the 10-month term imposed by City Judge James A.W. McLeod for his conviction on escape and child-endangerment charges. Those charges stemmed from a confrontation last Jan. 15 outside his family's 15th Street home as the 911 investigation was getting started. Carney made the new 90-day jail term concurrent with Merced's existing term.

Prosecutors said Thursday they were still awaiting word from scientists at the FBI Crime Lab in Quantico, Va., on the results of recent court-ordered voice testing of Merced's son, Daniel, 16, in the 911 investigation. No one has yet to be charged with making the hundreds of fake emergency calls, which tied up police and fire crews and 911 operators.

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Elusive parole violator captured in Cheektowaga

A man who was wanted on criminal warrants in three area towns as well as by the state Department of Parole was apprehended by Cheektowaga police late Thursday morning, Cheektowaga police said.

Michael Barnett, 37, whose last known address was in West Seneca, was taken into custody without incident after authorities spotted a car known to be driven by Barnett parked in the driveway of a home on Primrose Court in Cheektowaga.

Barnett was wanted in Cheektowaga as the result of a high-speed chase in the town late last year. His speeds in that chase exceeded 100 mph, police said.

Barnett was charged with reckless endangerment and other vehicle and traffic charges in Cheektowaga. He also was wanted by authorities in West Seneca and Hamburg.

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Basketball player loses personal items to thief

A Buffalo man was playing basketball inside Machnica Community Center, 1799 Clinton St., about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday when four men stole a sneaker stuffed with his belongings, police said.

The sneaker contained a cell phone, a bank card, $800 and eyeglasses, according to police.

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