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Contractor denies false report, claim

A home improvement contractor pleaded not guilty Friday in Niagara County Court to charges of falsely reporting a theft and trying to file a bogus $4,000 insurance claim.

Gary R. Schwagler, 40, of Campbell Boulevard, Pendleton, was indicted on charges of third-degree insurance fraud, attempted third-degree grand larceny and falsely reporting an incident. Schwagler told sheriff's deputies Sept. 10 that tools and equipment worth about $4,000 had been stolen from a Newfane site.

Assistant District Attorney Charles F. Pitarresi said Schwagler then filed a claim with Chautauqua Patrons Insurance Co., which rejected it because it didn't believe a theft had occurred.

In other cases Friday, Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. sentenced a Niagara Falls man to four years in prison for attempted second-degree robbery.

Armed with a sawed-off rifle, Grady K. Cook Jr., 21, who listed addresses on Whitney and Centre avenues, entered a Niagara Falls woman's apartment July 27, 2004, and stole jewelry, telephones and computer games.

He had pleaded guilty March 24.

Joseph Knepp, 38, of Ashland Avenue, Niagara Falls, drew a three-year prison term for breaking into a friend's home Aug. 23, 2004, striking him in the face and stealing his computer, which was sold for $100 worth of crack cocaine. Knepp had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree burglary.

Brandon Hoste, 19, of State Street, Middleport, was sentenced to a year in prison for sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor. Broderick convicted him July 21 in a nonjury trial.

Hoste was one of three men accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old girl last year in her Lockport home.

Broderick found John Holmes Jr., 20, of John Street, Lockport, guilty of first-degree rape, but acquitted Hoste and Jason I. Jones, 23, of Saxton Street, Lockport, of that charge while convicting them of the misdemeanor.

Jones, also convicted in a cocaine case, is serving five years in prison. Holmes is awaiting sentencing.

Jimmy W. Taylor, 23, of Eighth Street, Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty Friday to two drug charges: attempted third-degree sale and fifth-degree possession of cocaine.

Taylor sold the drug to undercover police May 12 in North Tonawanda and possessed cocaine March 19 in Niagara Falls. Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 17.

Charles Faulks Jr., 31, of Portage Road, Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and petit larceny in a Cleveland Avenue burglary. He will be sentenced Oct. 18.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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