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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Neighbor's action rescues disabled man from fire

NEWFANE -- A disabled man was saved from severe smoke inhalation during a fire Tuesday afternoon because of the efforts of a neighbor, Wrights Corners Fire Chief Timothy Williams said.

"Thank God for having a good neighbor like Kathryn Passuite," who got the man out of his house at 6451 Hope Lane just before 3 p.m., after she noticed fire in the four-level, single-family house and sprang into action, Williams said.

The man's wife, son and daughter were not home when Passuite noticed the smoke coming from the basement of the house and rushed over to get the man out safely, Williams said.

The fire began in the middle of the basement and was under control in about an hour, Williams said. He said two levels of the house are underground.

Williams did not release the name of the man rescued.

Damage estimates and the cause of the fire had yet to be determined late Tuesday, the fire chief said. He said the fire was put out before spreading to the ground floor.

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Officer accused of alerting girlfriend to drug raid

MEDINA -- A village police officer has been charged with official misconduct and placed on leave after he allegedly alerted his girlfriend to a pending drug raid on her brother, Orleans County officials said today.

Officer Scott Merritt, 31, was arraigned on the misdemeanor charge last week in Shelby Town Court and released on his own recognizance.

The three-year member of the village police force also was placed on paid administrative leave.

Merritt, who could not be reached to comment, allegedly also refused to take part in the arrest of his girlfriend's sibling, according to county officials.

Shawn Wisniewski, 22, was arrested April 3 during a raid at his West Avenue home in the village. Orleans County Multi-Agency Task Force members found a cellphone at the house allegedly containing a text message from Merritt trying to alert the suspect to the raid, county officials said.

Wisniewski was charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawfully dealing with a child. Three other members of his family also were charged with participating in drug trafficking, officials said earlier this month.

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Falls man arraigned on drug, gun charges

LOCKPORT -- A man who was arrested after a raid on his home May 25 allegedly turned up cocaine and guns was arraigned Tuesday in State Supreme Court.

Vincent J. Quarcini, 50, of West Rivershore Drive, Niagara Falls, pleaded not guilty to three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, two counts each of third-degree sale and seventh-degree possession, one count of criminal use of drug paraphernalia and two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The weapons counts pertain to a set of metal knuckles and a 9 mm handgun, seized in the raid. Police also seized about a dozen long guns, but upon further review, those turned out to be legal.

Quarcini is accused of selling cocaine to a police informant May 17 and 19, setting the stage for the search warrant, which reportedly turned up eight bags of cocaine.

Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., reading aloud from a court document, quoted Quarcini as telling police, "I had a little bit of coke, maybe a gram, and some guns in my safe."

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Man hanging onto car killed when it hits tree

A woman slammed her car into a tree early Tuesday in Buffalo, killing a man who was hanging onto the vehicle when it crashed.

Authorities have not identified the man, who was declared dead shortly after 1 a.m. at the scene in the 100 block of Cambridge Avenue, in the city's East Ferry-Grider area.

Detectives believe some type of confrontation occurred between the man and the woman, and the man tried to lunge into her car. She sped away, with the man hanging onto the vehicle, as it struck a tree about a block and a half away, police said.

The driver, a 44-year-old Medina woman, was treated in Erie County Medical Center and later released, according to police reports. Police later Tuesday were still trying to identify the man and did not say whether they believe the woman previously knew him.

The Buffalo police Accident Investigation Unit is continuing its probe of the incident, which occurred about six blocks east of Grider Street, between East Ferry Street and East Delavan Avenue.

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Dozens of bathtubs taken from hotel renovation

NIAGARA FALLS -- Dozens of bathtubs were reported stolen Monday from the underground parking garage of a hotel that is being renovated.

The complainant at the Days Inn in the 400 block of Main Street told police that all of the bathrooms are being renovated and the old sinks and tubs were being stored in plain sight in the underground garage.

She said 24 tubs had been taken the previous weekend and 10 more this past weekend, each valued at $80.