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POLICE & COURTS - Niagara Edition

Vacant home fire being investigated

NIAGARA FALLS -- A fire in a vacant 27th Street home is under investigation by the fire department.

Believed to have started in an attic crawl space at 11:49 p.m. Wednesday, the fire at 634 27th St., caused an estimated $20,000 in damage. The home is owned by Leo Benevento of 1512 Holding Inc., officials said.

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Assault, burglary add 8 years to inmate's term

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man, already serving four to eight years in state prison will have eight years added to his term after pleading guilty Thursday in Niagara County Court to a shooting and a home invasion.

Garrien F. Tillman, 23, of South Avenue, accepted a plea bargain that guaranteed him consecutive sentences of five years for attempted first-degree assault and three years for attempted second-degree burglary. Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. will make it official May 12.

Tillman admitted shooting a man five times in the legs at Highland and Centre avenues in Niagara Falls on June 20, and entering a home on Niagara Street in Niagara Falls on May 25 and pistol-whipping a man he found there.

Tillman is serving time after being convicted last year of bribing and tampering with a witness to try to prevent her from testifying against him over a January 2004 rape allegation. The woman testified, but Tillman was acquitted of the rape.

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Atlanta man admits using fake check at mall

LOCKPORT -- A man who tried to pass a counterfeit check at a store in the Prime Outlets mall in the Town of Niagara pleaded guilty Thursday in Niagara County Court.

Cedra J. Williams, 32, of Atlanta, is to be sentenced for attempted second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument June 1 by Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr.

Williams was arrested Sept. 30 after a check verification system at the Polo store noted the bogus $140.37 check. Assistant District Attorney John W. Andrews said Williams also had a fake driver's license under the alias he used on the check, "Reco Baldwin." Andrews said Williams faces charges in Erie County for allegedly buying goods at various stores with bogus checks.

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Drug, gun counts draw 3-year term for woman

LOCKPORT -- Tina L. Parker, 24, of Manny Drive, Town of Niagara, was sentenced to three years in prison on cocaine and gun charges Thursday by Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr.

Parker had pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. She was arrested Sept. 2 in the Town of Niagara with 2 ounces of cocaine in her possession, and also had pleaded guilty in connection with a May 4 traffic stop in Niagara Falls, where police found a loaded 9 mm pistol in the car.

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Judge rebukes father in stolen property case

LOCKPORT -- A man who bought stolen all-terrain vehicles and construction equipment was treated to some outspoken comments by Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. Thursday.

Broderick ordered Raymond D. Richards Sr., 53, of Ontario Avenue, Niagara Falls, to pay $7,985 in restitution before he is sentenced May 26 for fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. That charge could bring him up to four years in prison.

Richards' son, Raymond Jr., 22, is considered a fugitive from an indictment accusing him of stealing the property: five ATVs in six years, and welders, generators, surveying equipment and other tools from two Niagara Falls construction sites in the summer of 2004, according to police.

Broderick said he didn't believe Richards' claim that he didn't know the things his son brought to his garage were stolen. He said, "Your son's a bum, and he didn't get that way by accident."

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Drug sales probe leads to one arrest

LOCKPORT -- One man has been arrested by the Niagara County Drug Task Force after a three-month investigation of drug sales at a Robinson Road apartment complex.

Kyle R. Dawson, 35, of Queens was charged at the scene with two counts of felony criminal possession of a controlled substance for sale.

Dawson was being held Thursday in Niagara County Jail in lieu of bail of $50,000 cash or $100,000 property.

Chief Mark Driess of the Niagara County Drug Task Force said Detective Kevin Newman and Investigator Scott Barnes led the investigation into complaints of a drug business at the complex at 6343 Robinson Road.

Driess said four ounces of cocaine, plus a scale and packaging materials were found at the scene.

The apartment's tenant, Vashawn Staten, 32, was not home at the time, according to Driess.

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