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POLICE & COURTS - Niagara

Woman pleads guilty to insurance fraud

NORTH TONAWANDA -- City Judge William R. Lewis promised this week to sentence a Somerset woman to no more than six months in jail in an insurance fraud case.

Second Assistant District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said Wednesday that Cheryl Wagner, 38, of Lonnen Road, pleaded guilty Monday, the day her trial was to begin, to attempted third-degree insurance fraud. Lewis, sitting as an acting county judge, scheduled sentencing for March 13.

Wagner, who also faces federal charges over the incident, was indicted by a Niagara County grand jury last year and accused of working with her boyfriend's mother to falsify a $6,000 auto injury insurance claim. Charges of third-degree insurance fraud, third-degree grand larceny and fifth-degree conspiracy are still pending against Ann Cain, 52, of Lonnen Road.

Wagner suffered a fractured pelvis when struck by a car April 17, 2003. The insurance forms allegedly said that Wagner left the car in neutral and it backed over her at the end of her driveway.

Prosecutors allege that she was struck by a car insured by Cain, whose insurance company paid more than $6,000 worth of medical bills. But prosecutors accuse David R. Cain Jr., 35, of Lonnen Road, of intentionally running Wagner over with the car in the Newfane salvage yard he owns. He has pleaded not guilty to an assault charge.

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Man, 19, gets probation car theft, store robbery

LOCKPORT -- A Tuscarora Indian Reservation man was placed on five years' probation Tuesday for his role in stealing a car and robbing a convenience store Feb. 10.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza ordered that the first six months of Kenneth A. Dougherty's sentence should include electronic monitoring. Dougherty, 19, of Mount Hope Road, had pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery and fourth-degree grand larceny.

He and Keith H. Printup Jr., 17, of Upper Mountain Road, stole an Oldsmobile at Smokin' Joe's Indian Hill Road location and moments later robbed a clerk at Randy's Smoke Shop on Upper Mountain Road of $450. Printup pleaded guilty to the same charges and was granted youthful offender status in September.

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Driver pleads not guilty to DWI, other charges

LOCKPORT -- A Town of Lockport man pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment Wednesday in Niagara County Court.

Bryan J. Branch, 26, of Sunset Drive, denied charges of first-degree aggravated unlicensed driving, running a stop sign, a red light and a flashing red light, and a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated.

Branch was arrested Nov. 6 in the City of Lockport.

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House sustains $30,000 in damage from fire

NIAGARA FALLS -- A fire caused an estimated $30,000 in damage to a 27th Street residence on Wednesday.

The fire was reported in the 1 1/2 -story home at 3:40 p.m. and is believed to have started on the second floor.

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