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POLICE & COURTS

Falls man with record arrested in weapons case

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Niagara Falls man with a long criminal history in the city was charged Thursday with felony second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Asad Hixon, 21, of Dudley Avenue, was charged by investigators when he showed up in City Court for an unrelated case. Hixon currently has 12 open criminal cases, and he was remanded to Niagara County Jail after bail was set at a total of $244,970, with $100,000 alone being set in connection with the gun case.

According to Detective Lt. Michael Trane, on June 4 a 2011 Jeep struck a house in the 2200 block of Grand Avenue and Hixon and the other occupants of the vehicle fled, leaving behind a loaded shotgun.

Hixon had borrowed the Jeep from the owner of the vehicle, Trane said.

Trane added that Hixon was charged with second-degree weapons possession because the gun was found loaded. Hixon did not have a permit to own the gun and its serial numbers had been defaced, Trane said, adding that it was unclear why the Jeep crashed into the house, although speed may have been a factor.

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Ex-Brooklyn man drowns in Dunkirk Harbor

DUNKIRK -- A 22-year-old former Brooklyn man drowned near the Cedar Beach Lighthouse next to the NRG Power Plant on Thursday, city police said.

The man, whose name is not being released pending the notification of his family, was pronounced dead in Brooks Memorial Hospital shortly after a diver from the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Underwater Rescue Team, on his off-duty time, responded to the distress call while boating at about 4:30 p.m.

The victim's companions told authorities they were swimming and jumping into the water off the lighthouse platform in Dunkirk Harbor and their friend did not surface after a jump. Two friends jumped in to help, but the victim panicked and struggled before disappearing underwater.

City firefighters brought the man by boat to the Dunkirk City Pier and he was taken to the hospital, but he could not be saved.

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Grand jury charges four with manufacturing meth

A federal grand jury in Buffalo has returned an indictment charging four Town of Niagara residents with conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced Thursday.

Jason Hannon, 37; Roberta Hannon, 44; Robert Gardiner, 28; and Keith Crossley, 38, also are charged with using and maintaining a place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing and using methamphetamine, and possessing equipment, chemicals, products and materials that may be used to manufacture methamphetamine, Hochul said.

Jason Hannon also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The conspiracy and drug-related charges carry a penalty of up to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, or both.

All four were arraigned Thursday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. and are scheduled to return to court Wednesday.

They were arrested during the execution of a search warrant May 3, 2011, at a mobile home at 314 Quain Place in the Town of Niagara. During the search, law enforcement officers found an active methamphetamine "cook" in process, along with a loaded shotgun, ammunition, chemicals required in the manufacture of methamphetamine, waste products from the manufacturing process and drug paraphernalia, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten said.

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DWAI charge lodged during Newstead arrest

A Buffalo woman was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs after driving off the roadway Hunts Corner and Maple roads in Newstead about 7 p.m. Wednesday, Erie County Sheriff's deputies said.

Phan Pham, 19, also was charged with felony aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

An unidentified passenger was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital, Cheektowaga. Further information was unavailable.

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W. Seneca man arraigned in aggravated DWI case

A West Seneca man accused of driving with a blood-alcohol content five times the legal limit was arraigned Thursday on felony charges.

Victor M. Ojeda, 61, of Klas Avenue, is charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated and felony driving while intoxicated, according to the Erie County District Attorney's Office.

Ojeda, who was arraigned before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller, faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

West Seneca police Jan. 7 responded to a call about a motorist driving erratically on Klas Avenue, according to prosecutors. Upon arriving on the street, police reported finding him passed out behind the wheel of his car. Police woke him up for sobriety tests, and he again passed out, authorities said.

Ojeda, who registered a 0.44 percent blood-alcohol reading, police said, was convicted of DWI in 2010.