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Coroner, fire chief plead guilty to taking remains

CAMBRIA -- A coroner and fire chief charged with illegally taking human remains -- a small amount of body tissue -- at a crash site April 13 pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon in Town Court.

Niagara County Fourth District Coroner Russell Jackman, 45, and Cambria Fire Chief E. Vincent Salerno, 50, pleaded guilty to obstruction of governmental administration before Town Justice Amel S. Jowdy Jr.

The charge could have carried a sentence of up to one year in jail, but by accepting a plea bargain, both men were granted a conditional discharge.

Both were ordered to resign their positions as of Tuesday night. Each must serve 100 hours of community service with the SPCA, pay fines and surcharges of $1,000, and write a letter of apology to the family of Richard Dunn, who died in the April 13 crash.

Jackman, who also serves as the Wilson No. 1 fire chief, resigned his elected coroner's post Monday, but resignation from his role as fire chief was not a condition of the bargain.

He is also, however, required to write a letter of apology to the public in Niagara County, and Salerno must write a similar letter to members of the Cambria Fire Company.

"I think it was an extremely fair disposition, given his lack of criminal history and the lack of criminal intent," said Jackman attorney James J. Faso Jr. He said Jackman had passed a small amount of tissue to Salerno, which Salerno requested for training a cadaver dog.


Prisoner gets 2-4 years for two death threats

A Buffalo man was sentenced Tuesday to two to four years in state prison for the latest threats he made against an estranged girlfriend he assaulted seven years ago.

Justin Vasquez, 25, of Crowley Avenue, who has been jailed for more than a year, pleaded guilty to two felony aggravated criminal contempt charges. He was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Deborah Haendiges.

Vasquez made two telephone death threats to the Buffalo woman, who he had been ordered to stay away from almost a decade ago. He also damaged a Holding Center window by throwing a storage tote through it in April 2011, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said.


Newfane man arrested on drug possession charges

A Newfane man was arrested on drug charges by the Erie County Sheriff's Narcotics Bureau on Tuesday night while deputies were set up off Transit Road in Clarence during an investigation of other drug dealing in the same area.

Raymond C. Swanson, 57, of Coomer Road, was taken to the Erie County Holding Center on felony drug possession charges following his arrest on Transit Road near Millersport Highway at about 7:05 p.m., a sheriff's official said.

Senior Detective Alan Rozansky, head of the Narcotics Squad, said Swanson caught the attention of several deputies on a stakeout when his car "came flying down the road" off Millersport onto Transit a few minutes earlier. Swanson was stopped on Transit, and a large quantity of Oxycontin and hydrocodone was seized from his car, Rozansky said.


Drug suspect also faces charge of bribery

One of the three men arrested on drug charges in a rear parking lot in the first block of West Chippewa Street on Friday is also charged with third-degree bribery.

Joanathan J. Litz, 22, is accused of offering to pay a police officer cash "to make this go away," Buffalo police reported Tuesday.

Litz; Zackery S. Ventura, 20; and Levi D. White, 20, whose addresses were not listed, were all charged with first-degree loitering and criminal possession of a controlled substance. The three had bags of ketamin, commonly sold as Ecstasy, as well as marijuana, police said.

Litz also was charged with third-degree bribery for allegedly offering to bribe Officer Stephen Schultz when he and Officer Jose Lorenzo confronted the three sitting in a car in a parking lot at about 1:40 a.m.

Litz allegedly told Schultz, "Seriously, how much money would it take to make this go away?" according to a police report. Litz also was charged with a second count of criminal possession of a controlled substance and promoting prison contraband at the Erie County Holding Center, accused of having five squares of alleged LSD in his wallet.


Guilty plea entered to child pornography

A Buffalo man pleaded guilty Tuesday to production and possession of child pornography.

Paul Hackett, 45, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years on the production count, and up to 10 years on the possession count, when he is sentenced Aug. 14 by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. He also faces a minimum of five years of post-supervision release.

From October 1998 through August 2001, Hackett knowingly coerced a girl who was 15 when the incidents began to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case.

Sixteen Polaroid photographs of the victim were found in Hackett's residence last October, Mango said.