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MAN INDICTED IN ASSAULT ON SON'S TEACHER

The Town of Boston man who allegedly assaulted a grade school music teacher three months ago in a dispute over his son's role in a school production was indicted Friday by an Erie County grand jury on a felony assault charge carrying a possible seven-year state prison term.

David W. Tomasello, 33, is to be arraigned Wednesday in the Feb. 5 assault on Boston Valley Elementary School music teacher Margaret Bukkosy, said Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark.

Clark said Tomasello, who could not be reached to comment, is accused of pushing the 60-year-old teacher against the floor and a wall.

Tomasello was indicted under the state's Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act, which makes an attack on a teacher a felony carrying a state prison term of up to seven years. Clark said he is free on his own recognizance.

Burglary, escape net seven-year term

Charles E. Hampton was sentenced Friday to seven years in state prison for burglary and for escaping from Buffalo City Court by crawling through a ceiling heating duct.

Hampton had pleaded guilty Dec. 26 to first-degree escape for fleeing the courthouse May 28 an hour after he had been arrested in a Linwood Avenue burglary. Hampton, who had been released from prison in January 2001 after serving a nine-year sentence for robbery, pleaded guilty to a second-degree burglary charge in that break-in.

Prosecutor Frank T. Housh said Erie County sheriff's officers had nabbed Hampton on Dec. 10 while he was dining in a West Side restaurant. He was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr.

25-years-to-life term imposed in slaying

Calogero "Chuck" Butera, a mentally troubled Buffalo man, was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison for killing a close friend of his estranged wife.

State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti imposed the maximum prison term on Butera, who had been convicted March 19 of second-degree murder in the shooting of Robert Altemus, 39, of the Town of Tonawanda.

After the judge rejected Butera's demand for a new trial and a new attorney, defense attorney Frank J. Buffamonte told the judge the fatal shooting and Butera's courtroom rants had resulted from his "delusional disorder."

Altemus was shot at about 2 p.m. May 22 as he and Butera argued outside the Boyd Avenue home of Butera's wife, who was in the process of getting a divorce.

Butera, 41, formerly of Potomac Avenue, told Buffalo police that he was in the Secret Service and had gone to Delaware Park -- where he was arrested -- to look for his "operative."

Court officials said an appeal of the murder conviction is legally mandatory.

Carriers' food drive beats its goal

About 1.52 million pounds of food was collected earlier this month in Western New York during the 11th annual food drive of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the local president reported Friday.

The total collected May 10 exceeded the goal of 1.5 million pounds that Branch 3 had set for itself, said Bob McLennan. Branch 3 covers all of Buffalo and most of the rest of Western New York. Last year, Branch 3 finished second in the nation, and it was third the year before. The national results of this year's drive haven't been determined.

Donations went primarily to local food pantries and the Food Bank of Western New York, McLennan said.

Woman's death in fire ruled accidental

While the cause of a fatal fire in Buffalo remains under investigation, Buffalo police investigators said Friday that the victim's death has been ruled accidental.

Brenda Laurien, 54, died of acute smoke inhalation, according to investigators. Her body was found beneath debris in her attic apartment at 69 Ashland Ave. after Thursday morning's fire was extinguished. An autopsy was performed by the Erie County medical examiner's office.

Investigators believe the fire started in the woman's apartment. Damage was listed at $175,000 throughout the 2 1/2 -story apartment house.

Man critically hurt in Cambria crash

CAMBRIA -- An Amherst man was listed in critical condition Friday night after his car went out of control on Upper Mountain Road and struck a tree.

Kelly Mendola, 33, was taken by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center after the crash just after 5 p.m.

The Niagara County Sheriff's Department reported Mendola's car went out of control on wet pavement just west of Baer Road as he tried to negotiate a slight curve. The auto slid sideways across the road and struck a tree in front of 3552 Upper Mountain.

Wildlife hospital to open with ceremony

Western New York's only wildlife hospital formally will open today with a ribbon cutting celebration on what would have been the 88th birthday of its most important benefactor.

Edith Messinger donated the land on a hill in Holland for what has become the Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center. Fund-raising for the 18-room hospital began five years ago. Messinger, a wildlife rehabilitator, died on Christmas Eve 1999.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the center on South Vermont Hill Road.

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