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DRUG TREATMENT ORDERED IN THEFT FROM STATION

Michelle Howard, the former executive director of Buffalo's public-access cable television station, was ordered Thursday to spend the next 90 days at a state drug treatment center and eventually repay the $36,693.72 she stole to feed her drug habit.

Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Erie County Judge John V. Rogowski ordered Ms. Howard, 35, of Northumberland Avenue, taken into custody. He told her if she successfully completes the drug program, she will be released on probation for the next four years.

Ms. Howard, whose sentencing was abruptly halted Tuesday when the judge learned she had failed to submit to police mug shots and fingerprinting, declined to comment as she was taken from court in handcuffs by sheriff's deputies.

Herbert L. Greenman, Ms. Howard's attorney, said she will be taken to Willert Park, a drug treatment center in Seneca Falls.

Bernadine J. Kennedy, a Channel 18 board member who is suing Ms. Howard, Channel 18 director Jimmie Green and former Channel 18 director Jimmie L. Pilcher Jr. over Ms. Howard's admitted thefts, said Thursday that she is satisfied with Rogowski's actions in the case.

She said she has been pressing for action since last summer, charging that Ms. Howard was stealing grant money the station severely needed.

Court officials said the State Supreme Court lawsuit Ms. Kennedy filed in October against Ms. Howard, Green and Pilcher, is pending.

Channel 18, which is in financial receivership, is still technically in operation while the city searches for a new non-profit corporation to operate it.

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