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Lockport water supervisor placed on leave after arson charge

LOCKPORT – City of Lockport water distribution supervisor Dale W. Lawson Jr. was placed on administrative leave Wednesday in the wake of his arrest on charges of allegedly setting his back porch on fire during an argument with his wife late Monday night.

Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey disclosed the move Wednesday night. Lawson will continue to draw his salary of $54,530 per year for 30 days, after which the leave will become unpaid.

Lawson, 53, of Grosvenor Street, was charged with second-degree arson, fourth-degree criminal mischief and third-degree menacing. His wife Molly told city police that Lawson was intoxicated as they had an argument, so he poured gasoline on the porch and lit it. Police reported that Lawson admitted starting the fire.

Bail for Lawson was set at $10,000, but the Niagara County Jail said Lawson was no longer an inmate there Wednesday night. City Court officials said a felony hearing is set for Monday to determine whether the case will be transferred to Niagara County Court for potential grand jury action.

McCaffrey said in Lawson’s absence, Dennis McNamara, water treatment plant supervisor, is in charge of the water system, and Lawson’s son, Robert Lawson, was in charge of the crew that repaired a water main break Tuesday night that shut down East Avenue between Washburn and Cave streets. The damaged area needs to be repaved and may not reopen until Saturday, although local traffic is being allowed to reach the Lockport Post Office, the mayor said.