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BOY IN FATAL BOAT CRASH GETS YEAR IN STATE FACILITY

A 15-year-old North Tonawanda boy who crashed a stolen boat in August, killing a companion, has been sentenced to one year in a state detention facility.

Assistant Niagara County Attorney Richard C. Kloch Sr., who prosecuted the case, said the boy will be placed in a "limited secured facility" operated by the state Office of Children's and Family Services.

Family Court Judge John F. Batt imposed the sentence in a hearing last week. The maximum sentence was 18 months; Kloch said the boy's sentence could be extended to his 18th birthday at the judge's discretion.

Because of his age, the boy's name was not released. Kloch said he would be shipped to a detention center in the Bronx before state officials decide where he will serve his sentence.

Joshua L. Wagner, 14, of North Tonawanda, was killed about 5 a.m. Aug. 7 when a stolen motorboat crashed into a steel pier along the Little Niagara River. The boat had been stolen from Smith Boys Marina upriver.

Kloch said it was the second boat the boys had stolen that night, and the third that week. The boys had stolen a boat from the Niagara River Yacht Club two nights before, damaged it by driving over some buoys, and abandoned it off Gratwick-Riverside Park, Kloch said.

Wagner's companion was already on probation for an earlier offense, and, in fact, had a meeting with his probation officer the afternoon after the first theft, Kloch said.

The 15-year-old was petitioned to Family Court on three theft counts, and ended up pleading guilty to the equivalent of two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny.

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