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RULES TIGHTENED ON ATV USE BY CONSTABLES

The Town Board agreed Wednesday to oppose the use of all-terrain vehicles by town constables on private property.

The unanimous show of hands was in response to a Oct. 11 incident in which the son of a Niagara County legislator working as a part-time constable was thrown off his ATV while on property owned by Forest City Enterprises behind the Summit Park Mall.

According to Sheriff's Department reports, 37-year-old Richard Villani, son of Legislator Robert R. Villani, D-Town of Niagara, was thrown from his four-wheeled vehicle when he hit a large pothole on a dirt path near Doe's Hill, a local spot popular with off-road vehicle enthusiasts. Villani sustained injuries to his left shoulder, the report said.

Villani was in pursuit of Phillip Beemer of 28 Cottage St. in North Tonawanda, who was seen riding a dirt bike in the area, according to the report.

No signs prohibiting trespassing are posted in the area and Beemer was not charged, it said.

Beemer later contacted Councilman James Grawe who supplied the information when contacted by deputies.

The report noted that Villani, who also is employed by the department's marine division, has been seen by deputies pursuing vehicles and issuing citations.

"In one incident, Mr. Villani had magnetic Sheriff's Department logos . . . attached to the doors of his pickup truck when he was writing citations. . . . With said logos attached to his vehicle . . . Mr. Villani could easily mislead the public into thinking he is a road patrol criminal deputy for the NCSD and that his actions are so authorized," the report stated.

Supervisor Timothy Demler noted that constables often patrol in the area off Liberty Drive to catch truckers and other who illegally dump.

He said he commended the work of the constables at curtailing dumping and handling heavy traffic near the bridge construction on Ward Road.

The board met in executive session Monday and voted to apply for workers' compensation benefits for Villani. Board members said the legislator met with them the same night as the closed door meeting to discuss his son's predicament.

Demler said the board also would meet to limit the scope of the constables' duties to "keep the force in force."

He said he would prefer the Sheriff's Department patrol on private property but it has manpower limitations.

However, he was firm in stating that the next time Forest City wants a patrol, the company, which owns the mall, would have to provide its own.

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