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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Bank robbery suspect caught red-handed

NIAGARA FALLS -- It turns out bank robbery suspect Sheldon W. Crogan was literally caught red-handed.

Crogan also is facing shoplifting charges, which figured into his bank robbery case, according to city police reports.

On Wednesday -- the day after the HSBC robbery and the release of a surveillance photo was disseminated to local media -- Crogan went into a 7-11 in the 400 block of Niagara Street and was recognized by a store employee as the bank robbery suspect, police said.

The manager said Crogan shoplifted a 24-ounce can of Mike's Hard Lemonade, putting the alcohol into his hooded sweatshirt, and tried to leave without paying. The manager said he stopped Crogan and asked him what he stole and he said nothing, holding out his hands.

The manager told police that when Crogan removed his hands from his sweatshirt they were red, a shade commonly found when a person comes in contact with a dye pack of stolen bank money. The manager said he was calling police and Crogan fled.

Crogan, 36, of Main Street, was found by police later that day walking on 24th Street. He was interviewed, still red-handed, and gave a full confession, detectives said. He was charged with third-degree robbery in the bank heist, as well as petit larceny in the shoplifting case.

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Man admits break-in, theft of a can of beer

LOCKPORT -- A man who broke into a Lockport home and stole only a can of Guinness from the refrigerator pleaded guilty this week in Niagara County Court.

Bennie N. Carter, 35, of West Avenue, was admitted by Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas into the judicial diversion program of court-supervised drug treatment after pleading guilty to third-degree burglary.

Police reports said Carter was tied to the Sept. 22 Prospect Street break-in by his fingerprints, found on a light bulb that had been unscrewed in the house.

Carter's record includes being sent back to prison five times on successive parole violations following a 1994 robbery conviction, Farkas said.

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Man tearfully pleads guilty to possessing cocaine

LOCKPORT -- A man who was caught with 1.07 ounces of cocaine in a police raid on his home Sept. 29 tearfully pleaded guilty Thursday in Niagara County Court.

Ezra C. Garner, 48, of 21st Street, Niagara Falls, admitted to attempted third-degree possession of a controlled substance and was set for sentencing July 9 by Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas. She said she will give Garner no more than five years in prison.

In another drug case Thursday, Brendan J. Anderson, 36, of Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, pleaded not guilty to third-degree sale and possession of oxymorphone, which he is accused of selling to a police informant March 31, 2011, in North Tonawanda.

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Driver accused of forcing 2 vehicles off roadway

PENDLETON -- A Lockport woman is facing charges after she forced two vehicles off Beach Ridge Road Thursday afternoon, state police said.

Donna Pratt, 51, of Old Beattie Road, was charged with driving under the influence of drugs and failure to keep right by state police just before 2 p.m.

Pratt was driving westbound on Beach Ridge Road and crossed over to the eastbound lane, almost striking a car head on. She then continued driving in the eastbound lane, forcing a second vehicle off the road and into the westbound lane, troopers said.

Pratt was stopped by a motorist who witnessed the reckless driving and was able to bring her to a stop on Wheatfield-Pendleton Townline Road, where she was then held for troopers, state police officials said.

No injuries were reported.

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3 Falls men arraigned on felony drug charges

LOCKPORT -- Three Niagara Falls men were arraigned on felony drug possession charges in City Court Thursday following an investigation by the Niagara County Drug Task Force.

Alfred J. Maye Jr., 20, of Creek Court; Kenneth R. Burch, 23, of Ninth Street; and Cordaro T. Walker, 20, of Hyde Park Boulevard, were stopped and their vehicle was searched just after 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on West Avenue in Lockport.

All three were arraigned on charges of attempted third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fifth-degree criminal possession.

Task Force Chief Mark Driess said Walker fled the scene, but was found hiding in a garage on South New York Street. Walker was found with a few tablets of hydrocodone, Driess said. In the car, investigators said, they found half an ounce of crack cocaine packaged for sale, a small amount of cash and marijuana, packaging materials and digital scales with suspected cocaine residue.

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Autopsy done on body found in vacant house

An autopsy was conducted Thursday on a man believed to be in his early 50s, whose body was found a day earlier in a vacant East Lovejoy Street house that was about to be demolished.

The results were inconclusive.