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Two from Buffalo admit invasion

A Buffalo man and youth pleaded guilty Friday in Niagara County Court in a year-old Wheatfield home invasion.

Joseph Cruz, 23, of Oregon Street, and Luis M. Davilla, 17, of Niagara Street, each admitted to reduced charges of attempted second-degree robbery.

Under terms of a plea bargain, Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza agreed to send them to state prison for no more than five years; the legal maximum for the charge is seven years.

Last month, Eusebio Morales, 18, of Mayer Street, Buffalo, pleaded guilty to the same charge. He is to be sentenced March 4.

The three entered a woman's home on Moyer Road on Jan. 6, 2010, duct-taped her and made off with $6,000 in cash and some drugs, police said.

When Morales entered his plea Dec. 22, he was questioned in open court by Assistant District Attorney Susan B. Bjornholm. Morales said he and Davilla entered the apartment while Cruz stayed in the car. Morales said he pointed a paintball gun at the woman while Davilla searched the residence and found the money and drugs.

The woman escaped her bonds, and she and her fiance pursued the robbers down Niagara Falls Boulevard. Amherst Police arrested the three.

In other court action Friday:

*A California truck driver was arraigned on a 14-count weapons indictment.

Jack S. Sandlin, 46, of Fontana was arrested Nov. 10 after his tractor-trailer ran a red light at Niagara Falls Boulevard and Ward Road in Wheatfield. Officers said they found a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, 12 magazines of 30 rounds each for that weapon and a loaded .45-caliber Ruger pistol.

Sandlin, who has a California conviction for carrying a concealed weapon, pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of second-degree possession.

Assistant District Attorney Theresa L. Prezioso said Sandlin was hauling a load of toner dust to a Niagara Falls company when he was stopped.

After Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict said Sandlin plans to move with his girlfriend to Coral Springs, Fla., Sperrazza ordered Sandlin held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

*Sperrazza sentenced a Town of Lockport man to six months in jail to start a five-year probation term for his part in the theft of large amounts of stainless steel from Niagara Foods in Middleport.

Patrick T. Vail, 21, of Leete Road, also must pay $10,000 to Niagara Foods for the thefts between April 1 and May 14. The metal was sold for scrap.

Vail and Richard J. Tomaino, 23, of Ruhlman Road, Lockport, had pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny.

Tomaino didn't show up for sentencing Friday. His attorney, E. Earl Key, said the last he heard, Tomaino had gone to Pennsylvania. Key was allowed to quit the case, and Sperrazza issued a warrant for Tomaino's arrest.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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