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North Tonawanda man draws probation in forged check case

LOCKPORT – Hans Starkweather, 40, of Payne Avenue, North Tonawanda, was sentenced Friday to five years’ probation and $489 in restitution to M&T Bank in connection with a forged check caper.

Starkweather and Melissa S. Wilson, 37, of Payne Avenue, had pleaded guilty before Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III Jan. 7 to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, felonies stemming from the cashing of checks from a bogus company at a North Tonawanda convenience store in December 2014. A third defendant, Stacey C. Farrell, 34, of Payne Avenue, pleaded guilty to a second-degree forged instrument charge and was assigned to court-supervised drug treatment. Wilson is scheduled for sentencing Monday.

“This crime was financially driven. He was having a hard time,” defense attorney Jenelle Messer said of Starkweather. “It was related to drug abuse as well.”