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DA CLOSES PROBE INTO MISSING FILES

An investigation by the district attorney into complaints of documents missing from Grand Island town files uncovered "no criminal wrongdoing," the Town Board was told Monday night.

Supervisor James H. Pax read a letter from District Attorney Frank J. Clark responding to complaints by several Island residents that items were improperly removed from various files in the Grand Island Building and Zoning Department in Town Hall.

"I had an investigation done through interviews of various Grand Island residents and/or employees," Clark said.

The probe found "that on several occasions materials were removed from town files," he noted. "The original complaints identified an individual (Samuel Long, town zoning officer) whom the complainants suspected had removed the items.

"Our investigation, while confirming the information that items had been removed, failed to find any direct evidence identifying the person or persons responsible.

"You should also be aware that the person whom the complainants identified as having removed the items from the files denies such conduct.

"Based upon the lack of any direct evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the Erie County district attorney's office is closing its investigation."

Objecting to the closing of the case were Councilman James R. Sharpe and John C. Lexo, candidate for supervisor. They said the integrity of town records has been breached and town residents' rights violated, adding that a system must be devised to prevent it from happening again.

Mike Sendlbeck, a businessman and Chamber of Commerce official, read a statement raising many questions about alleged actions by the zoning officer.

Gail J. Lazenby, a candidate for Town Board, said he found Clark's letter distressing in that it indicated town files were, at the least, mishandled. He joined in calling for action to prevent a recurrence.

The Town Board also:

Took action to install warning beacons on pedestrian warning signs at these schools: Huth Road, Sidway, St. Stephen's, Connor Middle School and Grand Island High School.

Set public hearings for 7 p.m. Oct. 21 on Pax's proposed town budgets for 1998 and for 8 p.m. Oct. 20 on proposed uses of federal Community Development Block Grant funds and on a local law on off-street vehicle parking proposed by Town Attorney William P. Wiles.

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