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Leon fire chief indicted for allegedly raping two young girls

Laurence E. Ellis, currently on leave from his post as fire chief of Leon, pleaded not guilty before Cattaraugus County Judge Ronald D. Ploetz Monday to a 17-count indictment obtained by District Attorney Lori Pettit Rieman, accusing him of raping two girls younger than 17 between late in 2014 and last spring.

Ellis, whose alleged actions were not related to his fire company duties, was charged with use of a child in a sexual performance, second-degree assault, second-degree rape, third degree criminal sexual act, third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of children. Ellis was charged by the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office in early September after the two girls complained to authorities. The indictment was obtained by District Attorney Lori Pettit Rieman.

Also before Ploetz in the Little Valley courtroom:

-• Charles J. Covert, 50, of Allegany was sentenced to 5½ years in state prison on his June 29 guilty plea to second-degree burglary for the theft of over $1,000 in property during an Town of Allegany break-n last April 26. The judge also imposed five years of post-release supervision.

• Donald Stevens, 27, of Lawtons, and Beau E. John, 27, of Gowanda, both pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging them with first- and second-degree gang assault, second-degree assault, criminal trespass and endangering the welfare of a child for an alleged incident in a Town of Persia home last July 29 when they allegedly physically assaulted an injured another person.

• Breanna Winicki, 21, of Cuba, waived grand jury action and pleaded guilty to drug, assault and drunk driving charges in two separate incidents. She pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for injuring another person during an incident in the Town of Hinsdale Aug. 6 and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and driving impaired by drugs when pulled over in the City of Olean Oct. 23. She faces sentenced on both cases on March 14.

• Marcus A. Hicks, 30, of Olean, currently serving one to years in prison on a felony assault conviction, was ordered to serve another two to four years on his conviction to third-degree promoting prison contraband for sneaking drugs into Cattaraugus County Jail, Little Valley, when he was an inmate in September 2014.

• Melanie Yancharas-Kitch, 21, of Olean pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon for and incident in the City of Olean Oct. 14.

• Kelly L. Peterson, 47, of Olean, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with third-degree intimidating a witness, first-degree reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child for an alleged confrontation with a witness to a crime in the Town of Allegany July 21.

• Jaci L. Gibbons, 30, of Olean, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for allegedly trying to sell drugs in the City of Olean Oct. 8.

• Brennan D. Smith, 25, of Olean, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with third-degree burglary and petit larceny for a City of Olean house burglary July 25.

• Lance E. Ek, 44, of Olean, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with first-degree attempted robbery, second-degree assault and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing for an incident on July 28. He also was charged with failure to register with the New York State Sex Offense Registry last summer.

• Randall S. Crocker, 34, of Ashville, waived grand jury action and pleaded guilty as charged to a felony count of driving while intoxicated for having a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 percent when he was pulled over in the Town of Randolph on Aug. 15. He faces sentencing March 14.

• Kelly S. Bennett, 47, of Bradford, Pa., was granted a one-year-conditional discharge but ordered to make full restitution on her petit larceny and second-degree criminal trespass conviction. She was arrested in the Town of Allegany on July 15.

email: mgryta@buffnews.com