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POLICE & COURTS

Suspicious fire does $55,000 damage to vacant home

LOCKPORT -- The city's assistant fire chief said a fire Thursday that caused an estimated $40,000 damage to a vacant South Street building and $15,000 to the contents appears suspicious.

Assistant Chief Patrick Costello said nobody lives in the home at 326 South St., owned by a man who lives out of state.

He said his crews are investigating the fire, which was called in just after 7 p.m. Fire crews arrived back in their halls at 9 p.m., he said.

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Plea deal possible in killing of wife

LOCKPORT -- Richard B. Jermain, a brain-damaged stroke victim accused of shooting his sleeping wife to death more than two years ago, may be offered a plea bargain as soon as next week, Niagara County District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III said in County Court Thursday.

Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. still must decide if Jermain, 67, is competent enough to stand trial, the same standard he must meet if he is to plead guilty. Jermain spent seven months in a state psychiatric facility after Broderick ruled he was incompetent last June. But after treatment, state doctors sent him back, saying he could stand trial.

Defense attorney Christopher A. Privateer said he will have Jermain tested in jail by a psychologist Wednesday.

Jermain was charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 3, 2004, rifle slaying of his wife Bridget S., 43, in their Dorwood Park mobile home in Wilson.

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Falls man pleads guilty to having crack cocaine

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man pleaded guilty in Niagara County Court Thursday to having 1.2 grams of crack cocaine in North Tonawanda May 12.

Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. scheduled sentencing on May 18 for Carlos I. Torres, 24, of Niagara Avenue, who admitted to fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

In a separate case, pleading not guilty to that charge at his arraignment Thursday was John W. Crumpton, 28, of Tennessee Avenue, Niagara Falls. Crumpton, who also is charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, was arrested Sept. 1 in Niagara Falls and accused of having 600 milligrams of cocaine.

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Judge acquits man of two assault charges

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Portage Road man has been acquitted on two assault charges by City Judge Mark A. Violante.

Daniel B. Hawley, 26, had been charged with second- and third-degree assault. He was accused of breaking a man's arm outside a convenience store in Niagara Falls on Nov. 15, 2004.

Violante ruled that there was no proof of intent to injure.

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3 years probation set on assault conviction

LOCKPORT -- Gerald J. Kelly, 46, of Seventh Street, Niagara Falls, drew three years' probation from Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. Thursday and was ordered to stay away from the woman whose relationship with Kelly has helped him build his criminal record.

Kelly had pleaded guilty to third-degree assault for stabbing a man who was visiting the woman Nov. 10, 2004, and to second-degree criminal contempt of court for violating a court order of protection on Feb. 4, 2005, when he beat and choked the woman.

Second Assistant District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said that on Oct. 19, the day after entering the pleas before Broderick, Kelly allegedly stabbed the 44-year-old woman between the eyes with a pair of scissors. Sloma said the case is languishing in Niagara Falls City Court because the woman refuses to testify.

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Guilty plea entered in 'little crime spree'

LOCKPORT -- Stephen D. Roland, 22, of Royal Parkway North, described by the prosecutor as a man with "a drug problem who went on a little crime spree," pleaded guilty in Niagara County Court Thursday to fourth-degree grand larceny. Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza scheduled sentencing for May 13.

On March 9, 2005, Roland broke into a garage on Royal Parkway South and stole a set of golf clubs, leaving behind a crowbar with his last name on it, according to Assistant District Attorney Michelle L. Cianciosa. On April 13, Roland broke into a car on the same Town of Lockport street and stole some stereo equipment and a credit card. He used the card the next day at several stores in the Lockport Mall, until Kay Jewelers finally rejected the card.
Sperrazza said that $1,900 restitution will be required as part of the sentence.

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