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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Double shooting victim pleads guilty to gun charge

LOCKPORT -- A man who was shot twice last year in Niagara Falls pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing an illegal handgun himself.

Christopher W. Cessna-Carter, 19, of North Avenue, Niagara Falls, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He faces up to seven years in prison when County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas sentences him July 18.

He was arrested July 9 after a car chase with police that ended when Cessna-Carter's car struck a tree on 24th Street. Police said Cessna-Carter was driving at speeds up to 60 mph with a gun in one hand; it turned out to be a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 special.

The arrest came four days after Cessna-Carter had been shot in the leg. On Aug. 18, he was wounded in the abdomen by a shot fired through the basement window of a home on Walnut Avenue.

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Man, 18, shot in the Falls, is treated in ECMC

NIAGARA FALLS -- An 18-year-old man was shot at about 6 p.m. Wednesday at 12th and Niagara streets in Niagara Falls and taken to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo for treatment, Niagara Falls police reported.

Detectives were still investigating the shooting late Wednesday and ask anyone with information to contact them at 286-4553.

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Guilty plea entered to federal drug charges

A Niagara Falls man pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal drug charges that followed his arrest along with 23 others as part of a long-term investigation of gang drug-related activity in that city.

Mark Smith, 47, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing crack cocaine before Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert C. Moscati, who is handling the case, said Smith was involved in drug activity from early 2008 through March 2009.

He was arrested in a large joint federal, state and local bust March 11, 2009.

Skretny will sentence him Aug. 7.

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Mental competency exam in dragging pedestrian

LOCKPORT -- A mental competency examination was ordered Wednesday for a Niagara Falls driver charged with running over a pedestrian Sept. 1 and dragging him 500 yards under his pickup truck.

Attorneys in the case said defendant Christopher A. Ridgeway, 50, of Niagara Avenue, has brain damage from being struck twice by vehicles himself.

The Buffalo News reported in 1999 that Ridgeway had suffered head injuries after being struck on Hyde Park Boulevard in the Falls; the date of the other incident couldn't be confirmed.

Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner offered Ridgeway a chance to plead guilty to leaving the scene of a serious injury accident with a six-month jail sentence, a deal that would wipe out three other misdemeanor charges, two petit larceny cases in the Town of Niagara and a drug case in Niagara Falls.

Defense attorney Janelle Messer said she was having trouble communicating the terms to Ridgeway, who is accused of driving onto the sidewalk on 13th Street and running down Walter Garris, 50, of Ransomville. Garris was dragged three blocks and seriously injured.

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Not-guilty plea entered to six-count indictment

LOCKPORT -- A Buffalo woman who allegedly fought with two Niagara Falls police officers after her Dec. 3 arrest in that city pleaded not guilty to a six-count indictment Wednesday in Niagara County Court.

Pamela L. Newbern, 29, of Olympic Avenue, is charged with two counts each of second-degree assault and obstructing governmental administration, and single counts of disorderly conduct and attempted criminal mischief. The latter count pertains to an alleged attempt to break a window in the Niagara Falls city lockup, Assistant District Attorney Claudette S. Caldwell said.

Newbern was arrested on the complaint of a cab driver who said she repeatedly kicked the seat as she protested the amount of the fare. At Police Headquarters, Newbern allegedly knocked down Officer Marsha Gee. She also allegedly slapped Officer Ronald Cirrito's face and kicked him twice in the thigh.

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Man accused of threat with gun at gas station

NIAGARA FALLS -- A man who was refused entry to a gas station convenience store came back and threatened an employee with a gun, police said Wednesday.

A male cashier at the station in the 600 block of 19th Street told police that just before 3 a.m. the suspect came into the store and was told he would not be served. He said the suspect then left the store swearing. The man pulled a gun out of his waistband as he left, then stood in front of the store window waving it around in a threatening manner, the clerk told officers.