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Fake calls to 911 spur request for voice tests 15th Street family facing eviction threat

Erie County prosecutors are seeking the court-ordered voice testing of the patriarch of a 15th Street family whose home has been the scene of roughly 1,000 fake 911 calls this year.

In what court sources predict could be a similar effort involving all 11 members of the family, City Judge James A.W. McLeod will conduct a hearing Wednesday on the prosecution bid for voice testing of Juan Merced, 49.

Michael L. McCabe, chief of the Erie County district attorney's Arson Bureau, is seeking the voice testing.

McCabe's request comes as City Housing Judge Henry J. Nowak ordered the Merceds to correct more than a dozen safety violations or move out of their 15th Street home by Friday.

McCabe declined to comment when contacted Monday by The Buffalo News. Neither Merced nor his attorney, Ayoka A. Tucker, could be reached to comment about the latest turn of events in the case. The fake 911 calls reportedly continued through all of last week.

Merced and his wife, Felicita Santiago-Merced, 42, face a March 23 trial before McLeod on misdemeanor charges linked to their alleged failure to properly supervise their nine children.

McCabe is heading an ongoing probe of all the fake 911 calls, which reportedly have come from at least 19 cellular telephones. No one has yet been charged with any criminal offenses for the calls.

Friday, Chief Robert J. Stasio of the Buffalo Fire Prevention Bureau labeled the dwelling "a fire trap." Stasio's assessment came after he inspected the Merced home with a city building inspector following another fake 911 call about an electrical fire there.

As a result of the Stasio inspection, Nowak ordered the Merceds either to quickly repair the problems or move out by Friday.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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