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POLICE & COURTS

Lockport officer suspended; girlfriend had his handgun

LOCKPORT -- A city police lieutenant has been demoted to patrolman and suspended without pay for 60 days after his girlfriend was accused of carrying his privately owned handgun without a permit.

Police Chief Neil B. Merritt said the Police Board took action against Brian LeBere on Oct. 10 after he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in the gun incident before Lockport Town Justice Wesley Arnold.

Arnold fined LeBere $65 on his guilty plea to the violation, which was reduced from a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct, court officials said.

LeBere was suspended with pay Sept. 13 and later charged with official misconduct after his girlfriend, Amy Deak, took a handgun he owns with her to work in Amherst. Amherst police found Deak with the weapon, and she was charged with criminal possession of a weapon. She is scheduled to face that charge in Amherst Town Court on Nov. 6, a court official said.

Merritt said he suspended LeBere with pay when he was informed of Deak's arrest by Amherst police who traced the gun to LeBere. LeBere was suspended without pay until the investigation into the incident and subsequent court proceedings were completed.

LeBere should return to work as a patrolman in December, Merritt said.

Lockport woman charged with welfare fraud

LOCKPORT -- A Market Street woman accused of stealing $909 in social services benefits has been arrested on welfare-fraud charges.

Late Tuesday, Melanie L. Sears, 39, was charged by Niagara County Sheriff's Investigator Calvin Rhoney with misuse of food stamps, petty larceny and offering a false instrument for filing.

Sears is accused of accepting $691 in public assistance money and $211 in food stamps between June 1 and Aug. 3. She is accused of lying about her household income to obtain the benefits, Rhoney said.

North Tonawanda man admits beer-bottle assault

LOCKPORT -- A North Tonawanda man pleaded guilty to striking a man in the face with a beer bottle Feb. 17, opening a six-stitch cut.

Timothy S. Reinard, 33, of Oliver Street, is to be sentenced Nov. 9 by County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. on a reduced charge of attempted second-degree assault. The indictment said that after striking James Shingledecker with the bottle, Reinard tried to escape arrest by North Tonawanda Officer Timothy Sylvester by jumping a fence.

In another case before Broderick, Ronald K. Myers, 43, of Allen Street, Lockport, was placed on five years' probation for a felony count of driving while intoxicated.

Myers, who was arrested June 1 in Lewiston, also was fined $1,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

In Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza's courtroom, Philip L. Vincent, 23, of 10th Street, Niagara Falls, was placed on a year's interim probation for attempted fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

He was accused of having 10.9 grams of cocaine with the intention of selling it when police raided a 10th Street home Dec. 8.

Co-defendant Rashan Vincent, 21, is awaiting sentencing for fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Walter Ruffin, 19, was sentenced to eight days in jail for disorderly conduct during the raid.

Rape charge is brought after Buffalo man's arrest

LOCKPORT -- A Buffalo man arrested late Wednesday afternoon is accused of raping an area woman July 14, said Niagara County Sheriff's Investigator Patrick Cerminara.

Jerry G. Wood, 25, of Page Street, was charged with third-degree rape. He is accused of attacking the woman while she was asleep, Cerminara said.

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