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An Erie County grand jury will be asked to determine if a Buffalo police officer committed criminal acts by filing falsified arrest reports and testifying in court about drunken-driving and other arrests he didn't handle.

After six months of investigating the actions of Lt. William R. Connolly, a grand jury next week is expected to begin hearing evidence that could result in forgery and perjury charges, law enforcement sources said.

Connolly, 50, a 26-year police veteran, has been on paid administrative leave since last Nov. 4 because of investigations by both the district attorney's office and police.

Investigators have sifted through arrest, court and 911 records and questioned police officers as well as drivers who have been arrested by Connolly in recent years, law enforcement sources said.

Erie County District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon and John C. Doscher, who is handling the investigation, declined to comment on the grand jury action.

John R. Nuchereno, Connolly's lawyer, and court sources confirmed the grand jury action. Nuchereno said he knows of police officers who have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.

"We are prepared to defend this to the bitter end," Nuchereno said. "It's a shame a police officer doing his duty, taking drunks off the road, is accused of such conduct."

Most recently assigned to the South District, Connolly was placed on administrative leave with pay last Nov. 4, after serving a 30-day suspension without pay in connection with the investigation, department records show.

Deputy Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina confirmed Friday that Connolly is still on a paid leave.

Connolly is suspected of falsely testifying before grand juries, in court and state Department of Motor Vehicles hearings.

He also is under investigation for allegedly abusing Police Department court time and compensation policies. Under department policy, officers receive four hours of pay for every court appearance they make on cases in which they make an arrest, even if they spend only a few minutes in court.

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