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POLICE & COURTS

>Angola man accused of choking hospital nurse

IRVING -- An Angola man was arrested Saturday for choking a nurse while she attended to patients at Lakeshore Health Care Center in Irving, the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office said.

David J. Dull, 49, was charged with criminal obstruction of breathing and second-degree harassment in the attack, which occurred about 8:30 a.m., deputies said. Following arraignment, he was sent to Chautauqua County Jail in lieu of bail, deputies said.

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>Police say DWI suspect also texted behind wheel

State police arrested a 36-year-old West Seneca woman late Friday night and accused her of driving off the road while texting, as well as driving while intoxicated.

Troopers were patroling Walden Avenue in the Town of Alden shortly before midnight when they found an occupied vehicle that had gone off the road. While interviewing the driver, Kimberly S. McGinty of West Seneca, they learned that she had driven off the road while texting and appeared to be intoxicated, according to police.

McGinty was charged with driving while intoxicated and a chemical test determined that her blood-alcohol level was 0.16 percent, state police said.

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>$6.3 million settlement reached in Medicare case

Seven hospitals throughout the country have agreed to pay the U.S. government a total of $6.3 million to settle allegations involving false claims made to the Medicare program, according to federal prosecutors.

The settlements stem from an investigation into Medtronic Spine LLC, formerly known as Kyphon Inc., conducted by federal prosecutors and agents in Buffalo.

Investigators learned that some hospitals were overcharging Medicare for a procedure known as kyphoplasty, which is a treatment for some spinal fractures, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said.

The hospitals involved are in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida and Mississippi, Hochul said.

The Buffalo News reported in 2008 that the Medtronic Spine firm, located in Fridley, Minn., agreed to pay the federal government $75 million to settle a case relating to the same investigation. While paying the settlement, Medtronic Spine officials did not admit to defrauding the government.

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>Guilty plea entered in debt collection fraud

A Buffalo man faces up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said.

Timothy E. Arent, 38, and his partner, Neil G. Wieczkowski, engaged in fraudulent debt collection, purchasing debtor information from a Buffalo debt collection business -- Capital Management Services -- and then using the information to coerce victims into paying fictitious debt.

The former employees -- Thomas Rice and Andrew Jon Pytlewski -- pleaded guilty to stealing the information and are awaiting sentencing. Wieczkowski pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion last week and is scheduled for sentencing in April, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryEllen Kresse.

During the three-year period from October 2006 to October 2009, Arent and Wieczkowski received $6.8 million in checks written by more than 1,000 victims across the country.

Arent is scheduled to be sentenced on April 29 before Chief U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny.

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>Man guilty of drug charge lodged after '08 gunfire

A West Ferry Street man was convicted Friday of drug charges after Buffalo police found heroin on him in 2008 after an exchange of gunfire on the West Side.

Miguel A. Crespo Jr., 37, was found guilty as charged of felony drug possession by a jury after a four-day trial before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio. Crespo had been jailed since his arrest at West Ferry and Herkimer streets about 6:15 p.m. Dec. 13, 2008.

He will be sentenced Feb. 24 and faces a possible seven-year prison term.

During a closing statement to the jury, Crespo insisted police "planted" heroin on him.

Prosecutor Alyson C. Culliton noted police found the heroin in Crespo's pants pockets after he and two other men, who were never prosecuted, were forced from a car following a brief exchange of gunfire in which no one was hit. Police said they returned fire after a gunshot was fired at them from the car. Ballistics tests never determined who fired the gun.

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>Two rescued from car in crash linked to whiteout

SHERIDAN -- Two men were trapped in a car that veered off the road in whiteout conditions Friday and landed on its side along Christy Road near the Sheridan-Pomfret town line, the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office said.

Tom A. Jusko of Hamburg drove the car off the road in poor visibility around 10:15 a.m. and, in an attempt to turn back, the vehicle entered a drainage ditch, hit a concrete abutment and rolled on its side, deputies said. He and a passenger, Ken Kozlowski of Dunkirk, were removed by members of the Sheridan Fire Department and taken to Brooks Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.