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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Cause sought in fire that destroyed home

NIAGARA FALLS -- Officials were trying to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a home early Friday.

Three engines, a pumper truck and Rescue 1 arrived shortly after midnight to find the home at 716 1/2 Monteagle St. fully engulfed, according to reports.

Patrick D. Jessie, 44, of the Town of Niagara, the owner of the home, told police that a woman living downstairs and a man who lived upstairs were not home at the time.

City Fire Prevention Chief Gregory Colangelo said the home was considered a total loss, with damages estimated at $50,000 to the building and $20,000 to the contents.

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Robber, 19, sentenced to shock incarceration

LOCKPORT -- A 19-year-old who robbed a convenience store at gunpoint was ordered into the state's shock incarceration program Friday by Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr.

Mark J. Light of Lockport Road, Town of Niagara, had pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery in the June 29 holdup of the UniMart at Saunders Settlement and Military roads in that town. He will serve 1 1/3 to four years in prison if he fails in the six-month boot camp-style program.

Defense attorney James J. Faso said Light and co-defendant Matthew E. Thomas, 21, of Bedell Road, Grand Island, had drunk a gallon of vodka between them before the robbery, and afterward drove to Buffalo and bought 33 bags of heroin with the stolen money. Thomas was placed on five years' probation last month.

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Murder case places burglary trial on hold

LOCKPORT -- The attorney for a Niagara Falls man charged with murder told Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. he is looking into a possible package deal to settle that case and an unrelated burglary indictment.

Shawn L. Gibson, 32, of Welch Avenue had been scheduled to be tried Feb. 5 on charges of first-degree burglary, third-degree assault and third-degree criminal mischief. He allegedly broke into a Niagara Falls house and punched a woman Jan. 27, 2006.

Jan. 19, Gibson turned himself in on a murder charge stemming from the Jan. 13 shooting death of Noah L. Willoughby, 22, of 23rd Street, who was gunned down in an alley off Falls Street, allegedly following an argument in a bar.

After defense attorney James J. Faso said he was in talks to try to settle both cases, Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. agreed to put off the burglary trial until March 12. "If it's not worked out, we're going to go ahead," said Broderick. Gibson has yet to be indicted in the murder case.

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Cocaine possession leads to jail sentence

LOCKPORT -- A Gowanda woman was sentenced by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza on Friday to one to three years in state prison for cocaine possession.

Sherry L. Kettle, 39, of East Main Street, had pleaded guilty to attempted fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance in the wake of her Sept. 28, 2005, arrest on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, where she was re-entering the United States.

In another drug case, Rondell L. Caldwell, 36, of Niagara Avenue, Niagara Falls, pleaded not guilty to third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Authorities said he intended to sell 0.17 ounces of cocaine when he was arrested Aug. 3 in the 900 block of Niagara Avenue.

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Motel robbery described as drug deal gone bad

NIAGARA FALLS -- A man and woman were robbed at gunpoint Thursday night in a Niagara Falls Boulevard motel room in what police described as a drug deal gone wrong.

A 28-year-old Welch Avenue man told police he called an acquaintance and asked him to bring marijuana to his room in the motel on the 6600 block of Niagara Falls Boulevard.

He told police that the acquaintance arrived just before 6 p.m., followed a short time later by an unknown man armed with a shotgun, who charged into the room and demanded money. The victim said he and his 21-year-old companion were forced to get on the floor before he turned over $750 and she gave up $450.

A cell phone belonging to the intruder was found at the scene, police said.

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Stolen vehicles lead to arrests in Falls

NIAGARA FALLS -- City police said they made several arrests early Friday after discovering people driving around in vehicles that had been reported stolen.

On the 1500 block of Ashland Avenue, Rodriquez D. Burton, 17, of Niagara Avenue, the driver, and his passengers, -- Terrell D. Thomas 26, of Lockport Street, and Melvin L. Calhoun, 17, of 12th Street -- were charged with felony fourth-degree criminal possession of a vehicle after failing to stop at a red light at about 1 a.m., police said.

At 5 a.m., Police charged Jerry Sweatman, 33, of Orleans Avenue, with criminal possession of a vehicle. Officers said he was found driving a vehicle stolen two hours earlier from a Packard Court residence.

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