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GUNMAN SHOOTS CLERK IN LEG AND THEN FLEES EMPTY-HANDED

A clerk shot in the leg during an attempted robbery of a gas station-food store on Broadway early this morning has been admitted to Erie County Medical Center in fair condition, authorities said.

Edwin Connolly, 46, was shot once during the attempted holdup of the Super Stop 'N Gas Food Store at 1547 Broadway, according to the Buffalo police Major Crimes Unit.

Police believe Connolly was shot with a .44- or .45-caliber handgun shortly after 3:20 a.m. today. Detectives still are looking for the shooter, who apparently fled empty-handed.

Apartment broken into,
three tied up, robbed

Two men wielding pistols broke into a Cunard Road apartment overnight, tied up two residents and another man and beat one of the men in what's being described as a home invasion, Northwest District police said.

The beating victim later was taken to Kenmore Mercy Hospital, where he was treated for a head injury.

The incident began at about midnight, when the two men broke into the apartment in the city's North Park area. The bandits stole more than $1,100, two sets of keys and one cell phone, before fleeing in one of the victims' 1999 Lincoln Navigator.

The vehicle was recovered today on West Avenue in the city. Detectives were attempting to find some physical evidence in the vehicle to lead them to the two attackers.

Case against ex-officer
voided again; DA takes issue

A criminal case against former Depew Police Officer Joseph Lucarelli was thrown out of court Thursday for the second time.

After two days of prosecution testimony, State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti issued an order of dismissal. He agreed with Lucarelli's chief counsel, Terrence M. Connors, that there was no proof the ex-police officer did anything that quashed a major drug investigation four years ago.

Lucarelli, 56, now running a Depew landscaping business, declined to comment.

Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark conceded he cannot appeal the ruling. But he took issue with Rossetti's refusal to grant immunity from prosecution to the woman Lucarelli allegedly called in June 1999 to warn about an impending drug investigation involving her son.

That woman refused to waive her Fifth Amendment rights, and Rossetti denied a prosecution request for immunity for her without detailing his legal reasoning, Clark said.

"In 35 years of practicing law, I have never seen a judge deny such a prosecution request for witness immunity," Clark said.

Rossetti could not be reached to comment.

During the brief trial, interim Depew Police Chief Thomas Domino and Depew Detective Bernie Farrell testified about departmental procedures for processing citizen complaints.

Connors stressed that the complaints in 1999 of two women about an Ecstasy drug operation never even led to an active police probe.

Lucarelli had been indicted on charges of official misconduct, hindering prosecution and obstructing governmental administration.

Lucarelli resigned in March 2002, ending a 12-year police career.

Club in Welland fined
$25,000 as a bawdy house

WELLAND, Ont. -- A Niagara Street club has been fined $20,000 (U.S.) and has forfeited $220,000 in cash and assets in the Ontario Court of Justice.

Raymond Bailey, 33, manager of the Babies strip club, pleaded guilty this week to keeping a bawdy house.

The club owner, Roman Ludacka, 45, of Lowbanks, Ont., pleaded guilty to an assault charge that also came out of the investigation by the Morality Unit of the Niagara Regional Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

An undercover operation in 2000 resulted in the conviction of 18 exotic dancers at Babies for communicating for the purpose of prostitution.

As part of the plea agreement, the government confiscated cash from the business premises, cash from bank accounts and cash and farm machinery at Ludacka's residence.

"In forfeiting these assets," police said in a statement Thursday, the principals "admitted they were accumulated with proceeds from the operation of a second-floor VIP room as a brothel."

Bliss couple faces charges
of failing to care for 23 dogs

BLISS -- A Bliss man and wife have been charged with 23 counts each of failing to provide sustenance for the 23 English setters seized from their house at 6491 Route 362, spokesmen for the Wyoming County Sheriff's Department and the Wyoming County SPCA said Thursday.

Lee J. Stellrecht, 57, and Sheila J. Stellrecht, 40, were freed on their own recognizance pending further proceedings in Eagle Town Court, officials said.

Based on an animal abuse report, Sheriff's Deputy Daniel M. Hummel and County SPCA Investigator Susan J. DaVila found the 23 dogs to be without food or water during a May 13 inspection of the Stellrecht property.

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