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Suspected plotter told not to contact neighbors

LOCKPORT -- A former Clarence real estate agent, accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her neighbors, was warned by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza on Thursday that she will revoke her bail if she has any contact with the neighbors.

But Sperrazza declined to remand Shirley A. Rybacki, 56, to jail Thursday saying that a prosecutor's statement that the neighbors were visited by a real estate agent whom they thought was sent by Rybacki, wasn't serious enough because the neighbors weren't threatened. Rybacki denied any involvement in that incident.

Both Rybacki and the neighbors are selling their homes on Millcreek Drive; Rybacki has been living with her mother in North Tonawanda since posting $100,000 bail two weeks ago, according to defense attorney James J. Faso.

Rybacki is accused of meeting with a man in Niagara Falls three times last summer, trying to get him to take $1,000 to throw Molotov cocktails into her neighbors' home. She faces similar charges in Erie County.

Faso said plea bargain negotiations here have broken down, and Sperrazza set trial April 17.


Gaskill pupil says man stalked her in his car

NIAGARA FALLS -- A 13-year-old girl said a man was stalking her as she walked to middle school Thursday morning.

The girl was walking from Niagara Street to Gaskill Middle School on Hyde Park Boulevard and said a man, who was about 40 years old, followed her in his car for two to three blocks and made sexual suggestions. She said the car left when she arrived at school.

The principal contacted the girl's mother and then city police were called.


Suspended caseworker rejects deal, seeks trial

LOCKPORT -- A suspended Niagara County Social Services Department caseworker, facing a trial on 18 felony charges of shoddy work that allegedly cost the county as much as $400,000, rejected a plea offer of no jail time and light restitution, his attorney said Thursday.

Defense attorney Alan Roscetti said Dan D. Dietrich, 49, of Brayley Road, Wilson, turned down an offer to plead guilty to one misdemeanor and take a sentence of three years' probation, repayment of $80 a month for three years and forfeiture of $4,000 in vacation pay.

Instead, the case is to go to trial before State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. at a future date.

Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza said Thursday she is surrendering the case to Kloch because of a clogged calendar.

Dietrich is accused of renewing the benefits for 252 Medicaid clients without reviewing their income eligibility.


Casino patron charged in Player's Card theft

NIAGARA FALLS -- A 41-year-old Grand Avenue woman was charged with 10 counts of felony forgery Wednesday afternoon, following a State Police investigation at Seneca Niagara Casino.

Brenda L. Burke was accused of using two complimentary casino Player's Cards that had been reported as lost or stolen in early February by a West Seneca woman and a City of Tonawanda woman.

Burke was accused of using one card on Feb. 9 and the other card nine times, between Feb. 9 and Feb. 12 at stores and food shops in the casino, and falsely signing a name. Total charges on the two cards were nearly $600.

She was also charged with 10 counts of criminal impersonation and 10 counts of petit larceny.

Burke pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in City Court on Thursday and was held in lieu of bail.


Dog warden discounts animal cruelty charges

LOCKPORT -- The Town of Lockport dog warden said Thursday that recent charges of animal cruelty against a Lockport couple "have been blown out of proportion."

John R. Moultrup, 51, and his wife, Antoinette M., 60, of Minnick Road, were charged by State Police with cruelty to animals on Wednesday.

They were evicted from their home on Feb. 13 and were accused of failing to return to feed 11 cats and a springer spaniel that remained behind in their mobile home.

Dog Warden Joan Coe said the couple had left plenty of food and water for the animals when they were evicted. She added that the reportedly "deplorable conditions" that had been reported resulted from the animals being left unattended for nearly a week.

"These were neat people and the animals are all in perfect condition," said Coe.

She said the couple still faces a court appearance on the charges, but said they are expected to return home soon and that their animals will be returned to them.

Coe said the animal cruelty charges were initiated by the landlord who had originally evicted the couple.


Drive-by shooting victim injured in face, back

A Buffalo man was shot in the face and back early Thursday at Grant Street and West Delavan Avenue during a drive-by shooting, police said.

Tyrone Stanley, age unknown, of West Delavan, was being treated in the emergency room at Erie County Medical Center. His condition is unknown, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Northwest District police said that just after 1 a.m., a blue vehicle pulled up to Stanley and someone inside fired several shots from a shotgun.

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