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Convicted drug dealer sentenced to prison

A North Tonawanda man who used to sell drugs at a Wheatfield bar and other locations in parts of Niagara and northern Erie counties was sentenced Thursday to 7 2/3 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Anthony Lamarand, 32, who pleaded guilty last summer to conspiring to distribute cocaine, was involved in a large scale drug-trafficking organization between January and July 2009. During that time, he distributed, on average, 1 kilogram of powder cocaine every month to multiple customers in the Northtowns, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. McCabe.

Lamarand was among about 25 people arrested in the summer of 2009, including Joseph Tomasino, 46, who used to run the popular JT Wheatfield's bar in Wheatfield. Most of those charged pleaded guilty to felony drug crimes, including Tomasino, who received probation and six months of home confinement after he admitted that he used cocaine at the bar and allowed Lamarand and another large-scale drug dealer, Keith Simmons, to sell the drug at the bar.

Simmons also has pleaded guilty in connection with the case.

Lamarand fled the area July 30, 2009, as federal authorities tried to execute an arrest warrant. He was apprehended the following month near Atlanta.

The FBI, Niagara County Drug Task Force, and Niagara Falls and Amherst police departments investigated.


Woman says man swindled her on Facebook

NEWFANE -- A 48-year-old South Main Street woman told Niagara County sheriff's deputies that she was swindled out of more than $35,000 by a man she met on Facebook.

The victim told deputies Tuesday that she had met him on Facebook in November 2011 and agreed to lend him $18,528 for an investment. The money was transferred to separate accounts in New Zealand. She said she then transferred $2,500 to him in an account in Vietnam in March.

The victim told deputies that she thought she had been paid back when he sent four separate checks, totaling $23,000, to her bank account on April 26. After that, she agreed to transfer an additional $11,500 to him in a bank account in Vietnam.

The woman told deputies that she later was informed that the four checks sent to her did not clear and were verified by her bank to be fraudulent. The victim said she had never met the man in person but was told that he lives in Nigeria.


Two men injured in rollover crash

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mercy Flight was called to the scene of a one-car rollover crash Wednesday night on Lake Road that injured two Barker men.

The Niagara County Sheriff's Office responded to a crash of a Ford Explorer at 9:15 p.m. on Lake Road, east of Greenwood Lane, according to Capt. Scott Lombardo.

Lombardo said the driver of the Ford Explorer, Drew Remington, 18, was distracted by something that caused him to hit the shoulder and go off the road, hitting garbage cans, a ditch and a culvert pipe. The vehicle then went into a rock garden, struck a tree stump and rolled over at least once, Lombardo said. Remington was taken by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center, where he is was in stable condition Thursday. His passenger, Jimmy Galeas, 49, was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC, where he was treated and released.


Plea of guilty entered to crack cocaine charges

A Niagara Falls man pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert C. Moscati said John Smith III, 28, is the latest defendant -- 20 others have been convicted -- to take a guilty plea in the gang- and drug-related case.

Moscati said Smith conspired with the others to distribute crack cocaine in and around the Falls area from early 2008 through March of 2009.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York State Police, Niagara Falls Police and the Niagara County District Attorney's Office. The charge carries a mandatory prison term of five to 40 years, a fine of up to $2 million, or both, when Smith is sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny on Aug. 15.


Falls man, 21, shot in hand while walking on street

NIAGARA FALLS -- A 21-year-old Niagara Falls man was shot in the hand Thursday morning in the 1900 block of Niagara Street, police said.

The victim, Jermaine Lowe, told police that at about 9 a.m. he was walking east when he heard a male voice behind him yell, "Yo." Lowe said he turned around and someone he didn't know was pointing a handgun at him. Lowe said as he started to run away, the man began shooting. It is believed he fired five or six shots at Lowe, one of which struck him in the hand. Lowe was treated in Erie County Medical Center for the gunshot wound and is expected to recover fully, said Lt. Detective Michael Trane.

The shooter is described as a black man, about 5-foot-6 and in his 20s, with short hair. He was wearing a long-sleeve brown shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call the Detective Bureau at 286-4553.