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POLICE & COURTS

MAN GIVEN PRISON TERM FOR HOME INVASION ROLE

ALBION -- A Lackawanna man was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for his role in a home invasion in which three men, who identified themselves as police, barged into a Ridgeway home to steal marijuana and cash.

James Houghton, 69, of Lincoln Avenue, pleaded guilty to robbery in April and could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. But Orleans County Judge James P. Punch, who pointed to Houghton's age and failing health, imposed the minimum sentence.

Houghton, the driver, was arrested in May 2003, along with William Giglia of Buffalo and Samuel Giglia of Kenmore.

CASE DISMISSED FOR MAN ACCUSED OF FEEDING DEER

Charges of feeding the deer were dismissed for a Cheektowaga man Monday by Town Justice Thomas S. Kolbert.

Robert Hartman, 53, was charged with feeding the deer in Stiglmeier Park on March 26 in alleged violation of a state Department of Environmental Conservation regulation.

"We thought justice would be served, in this particular case, if we gave Mr. Hartman the benefit of the doubt," said Town Prosecutor Jeffrey L. Whiting.

Another town justice, Ronald E. Kmiotek, has twice convicted a Cheektowaga woman of feeding the deer.

"The facts of each case are very different," Whiting said. "Each case is unique."

BANK ROBBER LOSES LOOT TO EXPLODING DYE PACK

A West Ferry Street bank branch was robbed Monday morning, but a dye pack with the money exploded, forcing the robber to leave much of the loot behind, FBI officials said.

A man entered the HSBC branch at 306 W. Ferry at about 10:30 a.m., handed a note demanding money to a teller and threatened to use a weapon, according to Maureen Dempsey, a spokeswoman in the Buffalo FBI office. No weapon was displayed, however.

The man was given an unknown amount of cash and a dye pack, and he fled the bank.

The man escaped with some of the cash. FBI officials said the robber was wearing a dark jacket and pants, and a dark baseball cap with the letter "D" in red and white lettering.

WOMAN WHO AIDED POLICE HAS CHARGES DROPPED

LOCKPORT -- Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza has dismissed marijuana possession and conspiracy charges against a Brampton, Ont., woman who cooperated with police after her rental car containing 21 pounds of the drug was stopped Oct. 1 on the Lewiston- Queenston Bridge.

Sachilla Baboolal, 28, agreed to call two Washington, D.C.,-area men, whom police accuse of being marijuana dealers, and tell them she had been in an accident, with the car having been taken by a Town of Niagara towing company.

When the men showed up and tried to claim the auto and its contents, a State Police investigator posing as a tow truck driver arrested them.

FIRE DAMAGE EXTENSIVE IN NORTH COLLINS HOME

A North Collins home was extensively damaged in a fire that broke out at about 10:15 a.m. Monday, Erie County sheriff's officials said.

Annette Nelson, identified as the owner of the home at 2017 Brant St., said she discovered the fire upon returning home. She called authorities upon entering the house to rescue a dog, officials said.

HORSE STATUE STOLEN FROM SLOAN BACK YARD

A statue of a horse that holds strong sentimental value for an elderly woman was stolen from her back yard in Sloan over the weekend, and anyone with information about the statue is asked to call Cheektowaga police.

The horse statue, painted white and weighing an estimated 150 pounds, was stolen from the Franklin Street back yard overnight Saturday.

The woman told police she and her late husband had bought the statue more than 40 years ago and it was a favorite among her children and grandchildren.

Anyone with information is asked to call Cheektowaga police at 686-3544.

EX-OIL REFINERY WORKER AWARDED $3.75 MILLION

A Niagara County jury has awarded $3.75 million in damages to the family of a former oil refinery worker from North Tonawanda who suffers from a terminal cancer caused by his exposure to asbestos.

Following a two-week trial before judicial hearing officer James B. Kane, Donald and Nancy Reynolds received what is believed to be the highest award in an asbestos personal-injury case in Western New York, according to their attorneys, John P. Comerford and Michael A. Ponterio.

The award was made against Rochester asbestos manufacturer Garlock Sealing Technologies and Niagara Insulation. Reynolds, 80, worked with asbestos products manufactured and sold by those two companies during his career at the former Ashland Oil Refinery in the Town of Tonawanda.

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