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Fricano's DMV hearing on license is adjourned

NORTH TONAWANDA -- A Department of Motor Vehicles hearing for State Supreme Court Judge Amy J. Fricano was adjourned Monday when the arresting Niagara County sheriff's deputy was not at the hearing.
Fricano was charged April 9 with driving while ability impaired by drugs after she told Deputy Michael P. Dunn that she had taken hydrocodone, a powerful prescription painkiller, before she crashed her SUV into a utility pole and left the scene of the accident on High Street in the City of Lockport, according to police reports.

DMV Administrative Law Judge Rita Los said it was common to allow an adjournment if an officer is unavailable. Because Fricano refused to take a blood test, her license was temporarily suspended.

Los said it could take several months to hear the adjourned case on whether the suspension should be made official.

Fricano's attorney, Joel L. Daniels, said he was prepared to argue his client's case.

Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein said Dunn was not notified of the hearing.

"We usually get a court notice," he said. "I'm surprised it came up so fast."

After being stopped on East High Street in the Town of Lockport, Fricano twice refused to take a blood test to determine the presence of drugs. Based on her impaired speech and motor coordination, she was charged with the drug-related driving count. She also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to keep right and moving from a lane unsafely. She is scheduled to appear in court May 1 on those charges.

Meanwhile, she has been placed on administrative leave from her judge duties with pay.


Man given 6-year term on child-porn conviction

A Batavia man convicted of possessing child pornography was sentenced Monday to more than six years in prison, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Matthew Barber, 39, pleaded guilty last May to the charge. Monday, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny said Barber's computer contained the equivalent of more than 300 pornographic images, including explicit videos showing children engaged in sex acts.

Barber was sentenced to six years and two months in prison and five years of supervised release. He also must register as a sex offender where he lives after his prison term, is restricted in his contacts with minors and his computer activity will be subject to monitoring by the federal Probation Office.

Barber's case was part of Project Safe Childhood, a federal initiative launched in February 2006 to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.


Town of Tonawanda thefts net 10-year prison term

Longtime Buffalo burglar Robert A. Wasyl was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison as a judge rebuked him for burglarizing a church, stealing the wallet of a sleeping elderly man and taking jewelry from a frail woman he woke up and threatened.

Wasyl, 29, was released from prison two years ago after three years behind bars for a series of Buffalo break-ins. On Monday, Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio sentenced him on his Jan. 18 burglary pleas to the three Town of Tonawanda thefts.

Prosecutor Letizia Pia Tagliafierro said Wasyl, jailed since his arrest late last June, pleaded guilty to stealing coins from the rectory of St. Timothy's Catholic Church on East Park Drive early June 10. He also admitted stealing jewelry from a homebound woman he awoke on Benefield Court early last June 27, and stealing the wallet of an elderly man who was sleeping when Wasyl broke into his Twain Court home early last May 29.

None of the stolen property was recovered, the prosecutor said.

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