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Phil Fairbanks

I cover federal courts and criminal justice issues and occasionally veer off into the world of refugees, human traffickers and streets gangs. As a product of the Watergate era, I value a newspaper's role as the community watchdog.


Crime

Jaron Ruth is not a new suspect but his role in the 2012 murder of Henry Ackley in Cattaraugus County is now a federal case. A five-count federal indictment accuses Ruth of distributing cocaine and crack and killing Ackley at his home in the hamlet of Kill Buck. Ruth, 25, of Buffalo, is accused of shooting Ackley in the chest during a burglary and robbery of the vict…

Crime

Prosecutors say Kenneth Cassidy went from one Lowe's store to another as part of nationwide scheme that netted him $2.6 million in goods. He opened about 173 fraudulent Accounts Receivable accounts at Lowe's stores across the country during a four-year period ending in December 2016, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango. One of those outlets was the Lo…

Crime

BATAVIA — After two decades, the blips on the radar — those moments when the federal prison here found itself in the spotlight — can be counted on one hand. The Lackawanna Six spent time here. So did James Kopp, the anti-abortion extremist who shot and killed Dr. Barnett Slepian. More recently, the 650-bed prison just a stone's throw from the Thruway was home to Moha…

Crime

Judges read a lot of letters from crime victims, but in child pornography cases the names of the exploited girls and boys are often unknown. That wasn't the case Monday when Joshua Butler, a 43-year old Buffalo man, appeared in court for sentencing on a possession of child pornography charge. "I worry about the pictures of me that are out there, and I hate that other…

Crime

The trial of two Buffalo police officers accused of shooting a teenager with a BB gun will be delayed until May. The federal civil rights case against Raymond Krug and Joseph Wendel was scheduled to begin Wednesday but was delayed because of scheduling conflicts with other trials. The new trial before U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny will begin May 8. Wendel…

Featured

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. – Hidden among the vineyards that dot the landscape here is a far different twist on the region's agricultural legacy – a collection of mammoth greenhouses containing what may be its most popular and profitable crop ever. This small town at the mouth of the Niagara River, a community known for its theater and quaint, historic downtown, is addin…

Buffalo

Even now, only a handful of people know for sure what happened on that May night eight years ago in the back seat of a Buffalo police cruiser. One of them, a Buffalo teenager who was handcuffed at the time, says Officer Raymond Krug shot him in the leg with a BB gun and then tried to shoot him a second time in the groin. He says another officer, Joseph Wendel, egged …

Crime

For more than six decades, the gold knight's helmet with the red plume on top – a frequent sight on local streets and highways – served as a reminder of the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club's dominating presence here. No other biker club enjoyed deeper roots in the community. But earlier this month, a yearlong legal fight over the Kingsmen name and organization resulted in a…

Crime

A woman who threatened to "start shooting" if she didn't get cash in 10 seconds robbed a store in the 1600 block of Main Street Friday. The woman arrived at about 8 p.m and, while cashing out, gestured to her waistband, an indication to the store clerk that she had a gun, according to Buffalo Police. The woman also handed the clerk a note that said, "10 seconds to pu…

Crime

Just a day after her 28th birthday, a Buffalo woman was assaulted Saturday by a man carrying a hammer, according to Buffalo Police. The victim, who was attacked inside her home on Box Street, was taken to Erie County Medical Center with head and knee injuries. Police said the attack took place at 2 a.m. and, by the time police arrived, the attacker, who may have know…

Crime

A man wielding a gun walked away with $2,500 in cash, including money from a lotto machine, when he held up a Fillmore Avenue liquor store Friday, Buffalo Police reported. The thief displayed a handgun, jumped the store counter and emptied the cash register, a police report said. He also stole the store clerk's watch and hat and, before leaving, took cash out of the …

Crime

A Cheektowaga man accused of victimizing three underage girls was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in federal prison. Raymond Crum, 63, had previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to possession and receipt of child pornography. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said Crum victimized a 12-year-old and two 15-year-olds he met online.…

Roderick Arrington, the Buffalo street gang member convicted of a revenge killing, is going to federal prison for life. Found guilty of conspiracy and murder during a trial in September, Arrington was accused of being part of the Schuele Boys street gang and, as one of its enforcers, killing Quincy Balance near Northland and Stevens streets in August of 2012. Prosecu…

Crime

Even now, years after the heroin and fentanyl epidemic began, it's rare to see drug dealers held accountable for the deaths they cause. Carlique DeBerry is the exception. DeBerry, 36, of Buffalo, admitted Wednesday to selling the fentanyl that killed a Hamburg man last year, making him one of the few local dealers to be linked directly to a fatal overdose. He will fa…

Crime

When Brandon Dell pleaded guilty last week, a federal judge reminded him of the reports, two of them, raising questions about the legality of his arrest. The judge also wondered if Dell knew about the government's efforts to void the reports and their criticism of federal agents investigating the drug case. In the reports, U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder J…