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A Lackawanna man was arrested Monday afternoon on charges he stole secret PIN numbers to the bank accounts of elderly residents, removed funds and forged checks, authorities said.

Lackawanna officers said they found Henry Lemke, 32, of the 100 block of Colton Avenue, hiding in brush beside Smokes Creek after he fled his nearby home when detectives arrived with an arrest warrant.

Lt. Ron Miller and Detectives Frank Purifoy and Al Monaco were notified Friday by HSBC Bank officials that Lemke had attempted to cash a forged check from one of the senior citizens.

Further investigation, police said, determined he had obtained PIN numbers and bank cards by stealing the mail of his victims.

He was charged with burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and possession of a forged instrument.

Officer Robert Lester was credited with finding Lemke hiding by the creek at about 3 p.m. The section of the waterway where he was caught is about 150 yards from Lemke's apartment.

Man gets six months
for $540,000 swindle

John W. Gress, a former seasonal city sanitation worker who swindled an Allentown woman out of almost $540,000 through a series of hard-luck stories, was sentenced Monday to six months in jail and ordered to stay away from his victim.

Jailed since his May 8 arrest, Gress, 43, of Main Street, also signed a confession of judgment before Erie County Judge Michael Pietruszka, making him legally liable for repaying the money.

Gress earlier pleaded guilty to felony grand larceny.

John M. Ange, Gress' lawyer, said his client could be released from custody almost immediately because of the time he has already served.

The judge warned Gress that he was being spared a stiff state prison term to give him a chance to get a job and pay back some of the swindled funds. But Pietruszka warned him that any violations of his sentence will result in a 15-year state prison sentence.

Riley Street man indicted
in fatal shooting, robbery

A Riley Street man was indicted Monday on murder, robbery and weapons charges as the only one of the three bandits who staged a fatal robbery at an East Utica Street flat who has been taken into custody.

Terrien Williams, 22, was ordered to remain jailed without bail after he pleaded innocent to the indictment before acting State Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. McCarthy in the fatal shooting of Michael Johnson, 32, in the victim's home at about 2 a.m. Aug. 31.

Pembroke girl, 16, killed
in one-car accident

A teenage girl died Monday afternoon in a one-car accident in the Genesee County Town of Pembroke, sheriff's deputies said.

Deputies said Jenell R. Spaich, 16, of Pembroke, was driving west on Maple Road when she missed a curve in the roadway. She overcorrected while trying to regain control of the car, and the car spun and rolled over, ending up on the front lawn of 405 Maple Road.

Jenell was partially ejected from the car, deputies said; she was wearing the harness portion of the seat belt, but not the lap belt.

The victim was taken to United Memorial Medical Center North in Batavia, where she later died.

Jenell was traveling alone at the time of the accident, which occurred shortly before 5 p.m.

Cabbie reports two gunmen
robbed him in South Buffalo

A Liberty Cab driver told police he was robbed by two gunmen early today in South Buffalo.

Christopher Penke said the men entered his cab at 4:30 a.m. at the intersection of Chicago and Fulton streets, pointed a silver handgun at him and took $150, according to South District police.

Costumed man with knife
robs West Ferry business

It isn't quite Halloween, but a man dressed in some kind of a costume robbed a West Ferry Street business at knifepoint Monday night, Buffalo police said.

A man wearing a black cape, black pants and a nylon stocking mask robbed the Tanning Bed, 313 W. Ferry St., shortly before 7:30 p.m., according to Northwest District police reports. He demanded that the cash register be opened, then displayed a knife and said, "Give me the money."

After grabbing approximately $160, the robber fled through a parking lot, officers were told.

Buffalo police issue warning
on bandits preying on drivers

Buffalo police are warning the public to take steps to prevent the kind of incident that has left three area drivers forced to drive around town with armed bandits who talked their way into the victims' vehicles in the last few weeks.

The three incidents date back to Oct. 11. One of the assailants asked for a ride to his vehicle, another for a battery jump and the third for the driver to read him some directions.

"These are all preventable crimes," said Lt. Larry J. Baehre, public information officer for the Buffalo police. "If somebody approaches your vehicle and relies on your good will to help them out, you should refuse, roll up your windows, lock your doors and get out of the area as fast as you can."

And if the bandit gets inside, the victim should blow the car horn, yell and scream, or do anything to scare off the thief. Baehre explained that the situation never improves once the robber gets inside and leaves the scene; in one case, a man who jumped into a vehicle at Delaware and Hodge avenues held the woman for 29 hours, before she was released on Niagara Street.

Police pointed out that these aren't carjackings, which occur only when the assailant forces his way into a vehicle at gunpoint or knifepoint. The three incidents occurred at Delaware and Hodge, Parkside Avenue and Amherst Street and on Main Street in Amherst.

Two women sentenced
in theft of airport funds

A Sprenger Avenue woman was ordered to spend weekends in jail for the next four months, and she and an Eller Avenue woman were ordered to pay back the more than $30,000 they stole while collecting parking revenue at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

State Supreme Court Justice Edward A. Rath Jr. on Monday ordered Maria Guilford, 27, to begin her weekend jail term Friday evening and to repay during the five years she will be on court-supervised probation the $21,315 she stole.

Rath spared Marvina McCarley, 23, a jail term but ordered her to make $8,925 restitution while on probation for the next five years.

The two women pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to felony charges and agreed to make restitution. They were arrested during a continuing investigation of apparent thefts of short-term airport parking revenue. They had been employed by Airport Airport Parking Co. of America, which operates airport parking nationwide.

2 rob food mart in Amherst
after clerk is thrown to floor

Two bandits took an undetermined amount of money late Monday night from the Red Apple Food Mart on Millersport Highway, after one of them grabbed a female clerk by the hair, threw her to the floor and threatened to kill her, Amherst police said.

The robbers walked into the convenience store at about 11 p.m., one of them heading to the beer cooler and the other to the automotive supply area, where he asked the clerk for help.

The two men were able to open up the safe to steal the money.

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