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Area residents warned of 'jury duty' scam

Area residents are being warned about phony calls concerning jury duty.

Someone has been calling residents in the eight counties of Western New York, using the possibility of jury duty to coax them into giving their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, according to Justice Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge of the state's Buffalo-based Eighth Judicial District, and Christopher Pannozzo, Niagara County commissioner of jurors.

The state court system does not ask prospective jurors for financial information, such as credit card or bank account information, Townsend said. And it doesn't ask for personal information, such as name and date of birth, over the phone, she said.

"We recommend hanging up any time you receive a call from an individual claiming to be a court official seeking confidential data, such as Social Security numbers, bank card numbers, personal family or financial information," Pannozzo said.

Any suspicious calls should be reported to police.


Man charged with ignoring court order of protection

JAMESTOWN -- A Jamestown man who ignored a court order to stay away from his ex-girlfriend was arrested on five charges after he barged into her apartment twice Wednesday night.

John Morrell, 27, is being held without bail in Chautauqua County Jail. He is charged with two counts of burglary, criminal contempt, criminal mischief and harassment.

The woman, who lives near Stowe and Falconer streets, called police at about 11 p.m. Wednesday after Morrell walked into her unlocked apartment, punched her in the head and left.

Police said he returned shortly, kicked down the door and destroyed some of the woman's property. He also cut his wrist with a knife, police said. He fled again but was caught a short time later.


Man's charges dismissed after 4 months in jail

Prosecutors Thursday dismissed charges against a Buffalo cereal factory worker who spent four months in jail for what State Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Drury called a clerical failure by the Erie County district attorney's office.

Devlin Mason, 36, of Pershing Street, thanked attorney Anthony D. Abbarno for getting him absolved of charges in a violent home invasion. One man has already received a 3 1/2 -year prison term in the case, and a second faces a prison term next month.

Prosecutors told Drury they were dropping burglary, robbery and unlawful-imprisonment charges against Mason because of what they described as "weak" proof against him in the June 22, 2005, home invasion on Jones Street. However, the judge stressed that he would have quashed the case on "speedy trial" grounds because of what he called clerical errors by prosecutors.

Drury said Mason had been on probation for an earlier larceny conviction and had been readily available for arrest when a grand jury handed up an indictment in the case in November 2005. But due to what the judge described as prosecutors' clerical "failure," Mason was never notified of the indictment.

The judge released him after Abbarno entered the case and filed speedy-trial motions, noting Mason had not been prosecuted or brought to court within six months of the indictment.

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