Share this article

print logo

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.


Local News

On a winter day when temperatures spiked at a welcome 40 degrees, it was even warmer inside the Delaware Avenue gaming center where Nick Lane and Kevin Manne carried the mantle of Western New York into battle. Over the course of the day, Lane and Manne would attempt to do what the Bills and Sabres couldn't — flip, tilt and bang back their way to a championship. Even …

Crime

Ronald Caryl's use of the social networking site MeetMe.com is sending him to federal prison. Caryl, 25, of Silver Springs, appeared before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo this week and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce child pornography. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said Caryl began using MeetMe.com in February of last year to communicate wit…

Crime

Only a handful of people know for sure what happened in Buffalo's Roosevelt Park on that cold December day eight years ago. Yes, Jabril Harper died, the victim of two gunshot wounds to the head. But the allegations of a murder-for-profit scheme have always gone unproven. After a nearly three-month trial in Buffalo federal court, a jury Thursday failed to reach a verd…

Crime

The trial of Corey R. Krug, the Buffalo police officer caught on videotape striking a man with his nightstick, is being put off until October. Krug, who was scheduled to go on trial early next month, asked for a delay because of conflicts in his attorney's schedule. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara rescheduled the trial for Oct. 23. The trial will center arou…

Dec. 4, 1920 – Jan. 13, 2018 Alphonse F. Leising died in a hospital he helped build nearly seven decades ago. He was in his 20s at the time, a carpenter, and his relationship with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Bailey Avenue didn't end then. Decades later, Mr. Leising, a World War II veteran, found himself a patient at the VA. He died there Saturday at the…

Crime

In Edward Garrett's eyes, the time, energy and money it took for him to get a pistol permit, were reasons enough to challenge the state law. The former chairman of the Erie County Libertarian Party got his answer this week: the 106-year old law stands. A federal judge dismissed the Libertarians' legal challenge and pointed to the pistol permit's role in ensuring that…

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…