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POLICE & COURTS

Motorcyclist, 43, killed in crash on Scajaquada

A 43-year-old man was killed when his motorcycle crashed about 3 p.m. Thursday on the Scajaquada Expressway near Grant Street, Buffalo police said.

The victim, whose name was withheld pending notification of family members, was westbound and apparently struck the rear of a car then crashed into a guardrail, according to Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Customs officer charged in massage parlor case

David J. Wolkiewicz, an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was charged Thursday with providing false statements and concealing material facts when questioned by agents from the federal Department of Homeland Security, according to U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn.

Flynn said Wolkiewicz, 51, of Goethe Street, lied during an investigation into massage parlors in which prostitution services may have been provided by Chinese nationals, Flynn said.

Flynn said Wolkiewicz is accused of possibly having a role in the operation of Asian Acupressure, in the Town of Niagara, contrary to information he initially provided investigators.

Wolkiewicz, who could not be reached to comment, faces a possible five-year prison term and $250,000 fine.

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Propane torch sparks Amherst house fire

The careless use of a propane torch during a painting job sparked a house fire Thursday morning on Morton Drive in Amherst, Amherst Fire Control said.

The fire started shortly before 11 a.m. at 29 Morton in a house owned by Kim Barker.

Authorities said painters were using the torch to remove paint from the outside of the house, igniting an attic fire.

The fire was contained to the attic area, but the house sustained heavy smoke and water damage.

Damage was estimated at $70,000. No injuries were reported.

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Hilton Street teenager struck by shots from van

A Hilton Street teenager was being treated late Thursday in Erie County Medical Center after being shot in the hand on Fox Street, Buffalo police reported.

Raphael Jackson, 17, told police he was in the 600 block of Fox Street at about 2:45 p.m. when a green Ford Windstar pulled up in front of a house. An occupant of the van fired up to five shots at him, with one hitting him in the hand.

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2 Hispanic men sought after home invasion

A home invasion in South Buffalo Thursday afternoon had Buffalo police on the lookout for two Hispanic men who allegedly restrained a 74-year-old man with duct tape then stole cash and property, authorities said.

The victim told police the two men entered his home at 533 Hopkins St. through an unlocked door just after 1 p.m. Once inside, they used duct tape to restrain the victim's hands and feet before demanding money and threatening to shoot him.

The thieves ransacked the entire house and basement and took $1,500 cash and jewelry.

Both were described as Hispanic males in their late 20s. One was 5-foot-7 and dark-skinned. The other, about 5-foot-5 with lighter skin and short brown hair.

Police were trying to track the men down late Thursday.

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Ex-manager of tax service admits fraud, faces prison

A former manager of a Buffalo tax service faces more than 30 years in federal prison following his guilty pleas Thursday to tax fraud and bank fraud, U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn said.

Corwin Johnson, 36, a former manager of EZ Income Tax Service in the Town Plaza Gardens on William Street, admitted he prepared and filed falsified tax returns, W-2 statements and other forms to obtain tax refunds for individuals who were not qualified to receive them.

He admitted he assisted in preparing eight fraudulent returns for tax years 2002 and 2003, resulting in the Internal Revenue Service's issuance of tax refunds totaling $19,205 more than was legitimately due to taxpayers.

Johnson also admitted he stole the identity and personal information of someone else to apply for a residential mortgage loan for $77,600 and made up fictitious W-2 forms to demonstrate the individual was a good credit risk. The loan was used in December 2003 to buy a residence at 83 Glenwood Ave. No payments were ever made on the mortgage, authorities said.

Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 9.

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Driver suspected in road rage incident

An elderly white male driving a green Saturn Ion was suspected in a road rage incident Thursday morning where he cursed and berated a Middle Eastern woman who lives on East Ferry Street, Buffalo police said.

The victim told police she was driving near Delaware and West Delavan avenues at about 8:30 a.m. when the man cut her off in traffic, got out of his vehicle and screamed racial epithets at her.

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