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Fugitive from New Jersey arrested; may be tied to local bank robberies

A Buffalo man suspected in as many as seven bank robberies in the northern suburbs over the last few months was arrested Monday, State Police said.

Jerome T. Ware, 31, of Forest Avenue, was arrested shortly before noon on charges that he is a fugitive from justice in New Jersey.

Local police and prosecutors say they believe Ware robbed banks in Amherst, Cheektowaga and North Tonawanda, although no bank robbery charges have been filed, investigators said.

"We believe [he] is the person responsible for numerous bank robberies," State Police Capt. Mark A. Koss said.

Detectives from Amherst, Cheektowaga and the Tonawandas were going back in their files today to more than half a dozen robberies since December. In many of those holdups, authorities weren't sure whether the bandit was a man or woman, and a wig was believed used in at least some of them.

Law enforcement sources said police recovered items from Ware's car -- including a wig -- that could be connected to the robberies.

Senior State Police Investigator Neil N. Conte said Ware's description, his vehicle and the method used -- notes passed to bank tellers -- were similar in all of the robberies.

Investigators today confirmed that Ware is being eyed in at least these five bank robberies:

* In Cheektowaga, Bank of America, Harlem Road, Jan. 17.

* In Amherst, First Niagara Bank, Main Street, Dec. 22; Citizens Bank, Main Street, Jan. 6; Citizens Bank, Sheridan Drive, Jan. 24; and Northwest Savings Bank, Sheridan Drive, March 16.

The arrest came at about 11:30 a.m. Monday, when Ware entered the administrative offices for Citibank Buffalo on Lawrence Bell Drive in Amherst and asked a security guard if it was a bank, Koss said.

The security guard became suspicious and alerted authorities after recognizing Ware's car as matching the description of one in recent holdups, police said.

Less than 15 minutes later, Trooper Christopher Rodler pulled Ware over on Transit Road in Clarence, police said.

Police added they determined Ware, who had a New Jersey driver's license, was wanted in New Jersey for a parole violation related to an armed robbery there and on a warrant for issuing forged checks for $100,000.

Ware is in Erie County Holding Center without bail pending extradition to New Jersey.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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