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Renting of motel room to juveniles means clerk's arrest

All night parties, alcohol and a chance to have some fun without parents.

This is the message that some juveniles have touted on Facebook for get-togethers at area hotels and motels.

Niagara Falls police said they sent a message of their own last weekend, when they arrested a front desk clerk and accused him of renting a room to two underage girls.

Brandon Montanari, 21, of Tuscarora Road in the Town of Niagara, was charged Friday with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Police said he allowed the 12-year-old, who was with a 14-year-old friend, to sign for the room April 14 at America's Best Value Inn on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

"What is the purpose of a 12-year-old renting a room?" Police Superintendent John R. Chella said Wednesday. "We are trying to send a message to the hotel and motel industry that kids are renting a room because they can't have a party at a parent's house. Nothing good can come out of [kids] renting a hotel room to have a party."

In this case, Police Capt. Nicholas Paonessa said, "The age is extreme, way beyond anything we could tolerate. Hopefully this sends a message, and we won't have to look at other hotels.

"We are definitely keeping an eye on this type of behavior."

The transaction Montanari made is against motel policy, and he had been fired before police arrested him, Paonessa said.

The investigation began when parents reported a missing 14-year-old April 14. She turned up at 2 a.m. at Girard and 66th streets, but parents later discovered, through Facebook, that she had left to go to an "End of Spring Break" party at a hotel, said Juvenile Division Detective Robert DeMarco, the lead investigator in the case.

"There is no law against renting to a 12-year-old, but [Montanari] knew they were underage and were there for the purpose to celebrate," DeMarco said.

Paonessa and DeMarco also noted that children are not legally able to enter into a contract and cannot be held responsible.

If a child was seeking shelter on a stormy or cold night, it might be different, but this was clearly not the case in this instance, police said.

"It's not likely selling alcohol," Paonessa said, "but it is still endangering when it is hazardous to the physical or moral well-being of a minor."

He said these types of underage drinking parties are being held throughout the country and can lead to alcohol poisoning and other types of problems.

"It's important to anybody [who may rent a room to a child] that if kids are going to stay out all night without contacting a parent or verifying with their parents, they are putting that kid in danger," Paonessa said.

Paonessa praised DeMarco for tracking down the clerk in question and the ledger the young girl had signed.

"With things that are happening all around the country," Paonessa said, "this is something we just can't tolerate."