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POLICE & COURTS

Pickup drives from scene of crash with motorcycle

Police late Tuesday remained at the scene of a hit-and-run crash involving a Ford pickup truck and a motorcyclist at Delaware Avenue and West Utica Street.

The male motorcyclist, whose name was unavailable, was taken by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center after the 10 p.m. crash.

Police said they were searching the neighborhood seeking the pickup truck driver, who fled the scene. Witnesses said it was a woman, who took off her bright pink top in an apparent effort to reduce her visibility.

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Guard pleads not guilty in fatal beating of stepson

Ali Mohamed Mohamud, the security guard accused of beating to death his 10-year-old stepson, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in State Supreme Court to second-degree murder.

The 40-year-old stepfather was arraigned before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns.

Mohamud allegedly killed Abdifatah "Abdi" Mohamud on April 17 in their Buffalo home.

He remains locked up without bail in the Erie County Holding Center and is scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing June 25.

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Ex-police officer accused of growing pot free on bail

The former Buffalo police officer accused of operating a marijuana grow operation in South Buffalo was released on $175,000 bail Tuesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott released Jorge I. Melendez, a four-year veteran of the department but confined him to his home and office on Niagara Street. Melendez also will wear an electronic monitoring device. He was released after relatives put up property to meet the bail requirements.

Jason R. Elardo, the other defendant in the case, was given home detention, which allows him to leave home for work. He also will wear a monitoring device.

Elardo and Melendez are charged with overseeing a marijuana grow operation that included two warehouses, two homes and more than 1,000 plants. Also Tuesday, an Eden man appeared in federal court as the latest person to be charged in the case. Robert L. Osika, 46, was charged with conspiracy to manufacture more than 100 marijuana plants.

Osika was observed entering a warehouse at 1372 Clinton St. on Thursday, after law enforcement agents had searched the warehouse and discovered a marijuana grow operation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa M. Marangola. Osika told authorities he was hired to help maintain the plants, Marangola said.

Osika appeared Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott and was released. He, Elardo and Melendez are due back in court for a preliminary hearing June 25.

Melendez, who prosecutors said was recorded on hidden camera tending to the pot plants while in uniform, has been fired from his job.

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Man gets 6 1/2 years in prison in case tied to drugs, guns

A Buffalo man was sentenced Monday by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny to 6 1/2 years in prison for selling cocaine and possessing firearms.

Jermaine A. Leatherwood, 31, sold cocaine from his Goethe Street home between September and October 2010, and a search of his residence turned up cocaine, marijuana, two rifles and ammunition, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten.

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Man faces extradition on sexual assault charges

An Alden man is being held in the Erie County Holding Center pending his extradition to Haskell, N.J., on charges he allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl he met through a social networking site.

James Fagerburg, 29, an EMT for Twin City Ambulance, was arrested Thursday after New Jersey officials contacted Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III about their investigation. Upon Fagerburg's arrest, he was placed on administrative leave by the ambulance company.

Fagerburg has been accused of sending the girl text messages since March on a cellphone he gave her after visiting her in her hometown. Fagerburg was charged with three counts of sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child.

His extradition to New Jersey is under discussion, according to officials in the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

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Dismissed Corasanti juror pleads not guilty to DWI

A dismissed juror in the Dr. James G. Corasanti manslaughter trial pleaded not guilty Monday in Tonawanda Town Court to aggravated driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

Michael E. Barron, 40, of Courier Boulevard, Kenmore, was allowed him to remain free pending trial, Judge Daniel Cavarello ruled. Attorney Lindsey Copeland, who represented Barron, said Barron regrets the incident but is "innocent until proven guilty."

Barron, who works in the Social Security Administration office in Amherst, was removed from the jury hearing Corasanti's fatal hit-and-run trial in the wake of his arrest early May 2 on Elmwood Avenue.

Corasanti was acquitted of all felony charges last week but convicted on a misdemeanor DWI charge.