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Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nicholas J. Forster did not appear Friday at a county Board of Ethics meeting investigating his use of a county telephone for personal and perhaps political calls.

Forster, a corrections officer assigned to the Law Enforcement Academy, is expected to attend the board's next meeting March 14, according to board member Mary Ferruzza of Lockport, who acts as the board's spokeswoman.

Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein, Forster's superior, who reported the matter to the board, said he did attend the meeting at Niagara County Community College, but declined comment on what he said there. The meeting, like all Board of Ethics sessions, was closed to the public because it deals with personnel matters.

Forster was penalized with the loss of three paid personal days in November after Beilein discovered that he had made $19.99 worth of personal calls from his phone at the academy last fall.

But Beilein also wrote a letter to the board reporting the violation, something he said he was required to do under the terms of the county Code of Ethics.

Beilein said he believed the calls were for political business, something Forster has denied. He did not return calls for comment Friday.

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