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POLICE & COURTS

Truck driver acquitted of hauling marijuana

An Ontario truck driver who was arrested after 685 pounds of hydroponic marijuana was found in his trailer was acquitted of three felony charges on Dec. 14.

Tarlochan S. Jagpal, 24, of Mississauga, testified before a federal jury that he didn't load the trailer and didn't know how the pot got into the trailer. He said he did not know there was any illegal cargo in the trailer.

"He had no previous criminal record before this arrest," said defense attorney James P. Harrington.

U.S. immigration officers found the pot when Jagpal drove his truck over the Peace Bridge into Buffalo in November 2004. It was one of the largest such seizures in the history of the bridge.

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Knights of Columbus faces serving charge

The Knights of Columbus in the City of Tonawanda was one of four establishments cited during a recent city police check for serving alcohol to a minor, Tonawanda police said Friday.

Paul Lingenfelter, 49, of Wheeler Street, Tonawanda, was cited for unlawfully dealing with a minor for allegedly allowing a 20-year-old decoy for the police department to purchase alcohol at the Knights of Columbus.

Other locations cited included the Tops Market on Young Street, Tonawanda Bowling Center and the Junkyard Bar, police said. Charged at those locations were Kaitlyn Doyle, 18, of Milton Street, Tonawanda; Jacquelyn Wohlfert, 21, of Cordova Avenue, Buffalo; and Robin Bach, 27, of Xavier Road, Clarence, respectively.

In all, 28 locations were checked. Two-dozen establishments were found to be in compliance.

The four people charged were issued appearance tickets for a Jan. 9 court appearance.

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Driver hospitalized after pickup hits pole

An Alden man was listed in stable condition in Erie County Medical Center after a pickup truck struck a utility pole just after 4:35 a.m. Friday, Erie County sheriff's deputies reported.

Steven D. Golembiewski, 28, was eastbound on Genesee Street near Zoeller Road when the pickup crossed the center line and went off the roadway. Golembiewski was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC.

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Marijuana grower pleads to reduced charge

LOCKPORT -- A man who was growing marijuana in his Niagara Falls home pleaded guilty to a reduced felony charge this week in Niagara County Court.

Mark A. Mellon, 35, of 27th Street, admitted to attempted second-degree criminal possession of marijuana and is to be sentenced Feb. 22 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza. A county Drug Task Force raid on his home April 17 netted 1.78 pounds of marijuana, court papers said.

In another marijuana case, Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. placed Darrell E. Patterson on interim probation for a year, pending further sentencing.

Patterson, 38, of Niagara Avenue, Niagara Falls, was arrested Oct. 20, 2005, at the Rainbow Bridge for bringing 3.54 pounds of marijuana into the United States in a duffel bag. Inspectors said he tripped over the bag when they told him to get out of his car.

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Fire does $30,000 damage at vacant Falls home

NIAGARA FALLS -- A kitchen fire sparked a blaze that caused $30,000 damage Friday to an unoccupied house at 3545 Sherwood Ave., the Niagara Falls Fire Department said.

City firefighters quickly knocked down the 1 p.m. fire. Damage to the building was estimated at $20,000, with damage to the contents set at $10,000.

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Hotel manager robbed, leading to two arrests

NIAGARA FALLS -- Police had two men in custody Thursday after the manager of the Hampton Inn, 501 Rainbow Blvd., said they held her up Friday and made off with $177.

Two men entered the hotel Friday, police said, and one of them asked for the manager and how much a room would cost.

One of the men then gave her a note on a ripped piece of paper that stated, "I have a weapon. Give me the money and no one will get hurt," she said.

The woman said the entire incident was recorded by a security camera and showed the faces of both men.

Police charged James S. Davidson Jr., 34, of 22nd Street and Juan Smith, 43, of Fifth Street with felony robbery and petit larceny.

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Plea of not guilty entered in gun case

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls woman who was arrested at a sidewalk dice game pleaded not guilty to gun charges Thursday in Niagara County Court.

Rhamelle L. Jackson, 22, of Ashland Avenue denied two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of loitering.

Court papers said Jackson was arrested June 27 when police broke up a dice game in front of a convenience store at 18th and Niagara streets in the Falls. She allegedly had a loaded Beretta handgun with the serial number scratched off. Jackson was sentenced last month to a year in jail on an unrelated cocaine-possession charge.

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