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POLICE & COURTS

>Fire crews called back to fight rekindled blaze

FORESTVILLE -- Forestville fire crews had to return Friday morning to a Cedar Street home extensively damaged Thursday by a fire.

Fire Chief Kevin Peebles said firefighters found heavy smoke and fire at about 5 p.m. Thursday after the initial call to 21 Cedar. They were called back early Friday after the fire rekindled, but extinguished the flames quickly. No injuries were reported.

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>Ontario driver clueless over how pot got into truck

An Ontario truck driver was arrested at the Peace Bridge early Friday after a gamma ray scanning device helped federal agents find 624 pounds of marijuana hidden within his cargo.

Trucker Budh S. Dhaliwal, 35, of Brampton, denied having any knowledge of how the pot got into his truck. Authorities said the pot was hidden among a load of plastic airline food trays.

"A scan of the truck showed an unusual shape, which turned out to be 17 boxes of pot within the cargo," said Kevin Corsaro, an agent with U.S. Customs & Border Protection. "The pot was in vacuum-sealed bags. We estimate the street value of the pot at almost $2 million."

Dhaliwal, a Canadian citizen who was born in India, pleaded not guilty to felony drug smuggling charges during an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.

Federal public defender Timothy W. Hoover said Dhaliwal was only the driver of the truck and had no way of knowing that someone had secreted marijuana inside the legal cargo. Prosecutor William Gillmeister said federal agents believe he did know about the marijuana.

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>Amherst man admits killing grandmother

Richard B. D'Andrea pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter for fatally beating his 73-year-old grandmother, Vel Sedita, in the Amherst home she had allowed him to share in recent years.

D'Andrea, 21, began to choke as he told State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia he caused his grandmother's death after their latest physical struggle Jan. 27 in the Kaymar Drive home.

The judge told D'Andrea, who was indicted three months ago on a second-degree murder charge, he faces a likely prison term of at least 15 years when he is returned to court for sentencing Sept. 7.

Relatives of both the victim and defendant consented to the pretrial plea, prosecutors Letizia Pia Tagliafierro and Brian K. Parker said.

D'Andrea could have faced a prison term up to 25 years.

Amherst police reported being called to Sedita's home in the Willow Ridge neighborhood just west of the Lockport Expressway five times in the previous three years because of domestic problems involving D'Andrea.

The most recent occasion had been a week before she was killed.

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>Ex-Adam's Mark employee suspected in theft from safe

More than $22,000 in cash was stolen from the safe at the Adam's Mark Hotel sometime within the last month, and hotel officials told police they think it was an inside job, according to police reports.

A hotel representative told police the money was taken from the safe sometime between May 17 and 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The hotel official told police that a woman who was terminated from her employment at the hotel was the only person with the combination to the safe, and she handed over an incorrect combination when she was fired, according to reports.

A locksmith was called to open the safe. Hotel authorities then realized the cash was missing.

Buffalo police and U.S. Secret Service agents are investigating the case.

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