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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

>$1,200 reported stolen from fire company cabinet

WHEATFIELD -- A member of St. Johnsburg Volunteer Fire Company told the Niagara County Sheriff's Office Tuesday that $1,200 was stolen from a locked cabinet in company headquarters.

The money was taken from three bell jar containers locked up after bingo on Nov. 15. A spare key to the cabinet is believed to be missing, deputies said.

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>Closing arguments due in racketeering trial

A federal jury is expected to hear closing arguments today in the racketeering trial of three Niagara County tree trimmers accused of threatening, vandalizing and bullying their business rivals.

The trial of David Cain Jr., 37, and his brother, Christopher Cain, 34, both of Somerset, and their cousin, Jamie Soha, 31, of Lockport, began Oct. 18 before District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

On Wednesday, defense lawyers were successful in convincing Arcara to dismiss four of the 25 counts against the three men, ruling that prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence that federal crimes were committed.

The three men are accused of using threats, vandalism and arson to intimidate rivals who ran logging and tree-trimming businesses in Niagara and Orleans counties. David Cain Jr. is accused of leading a violent ring of criminals. All three men deny the allegations.

More than 40 prosecution witnesses testified, but no defense witnesses were presented.

The charges stem from an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and other agencies.

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>Attorney for Restaino issues an apology

NIAGARA FALLS -- City Judge Robert M. Restaino's lawyer issued a brief statement Wednesday, apologizing for the jurist's jailing of 46 people in March 2005 because no one would admit to owning what Restaino thought was a cell phone ringing in his courtroom.

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct announced Tuesday its recommendation that Restaino be removed from the bench, but he is appealing the ruling to the State Court of Appeals.
Attorney Terrence M. Connors, who is handling the appeal, issued the statement, which read, "Judge Restaino deeply regrets and profoundly apologizes for his actions on the morning of March 11, 2005. It is our hope that the Court of Appeals will measure those few hours against a decade of exemplary conduct on the bench and years of extraordinary service to the Niagara Falls community."

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>DNA link to burglary won't add to prison time

LOCKPORT -- A former Niagara Falls man, connected to a 2003 burglary case by DNA, won't have to serve any additional time in prison because of it.
Niagara County Peter L. Broderick Sr. on Wednesday sentenced Robert E. Wall Jr., 39, to two to four years in prison for his guilty plea to attempted second-degree burglary but made the time concurrent with the seven-year sentence Wall is serving for another 2003 burglary. He wasn't convicted of that crime until 2005.

Wall, like all other convicted felons in New York, had to give a DNA sample upon entering prison, and that sample matched blood left behind on the broken windshield of a Jeep at a home on 17th Street in Niagara Falls. Wall was accused of kicking in the windshield Aug. 26, 2003, in an attempt to steal the vehicle's stereo.

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>Burglary plea brings 5 years' probation

LOCKPORT -- A Newfane man who had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree burglary was placed on five years' probation Tuesday by Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr.
Edmund F. Merchant, 20, of South Main Street, Newfane, broke into a house on Dutton Place in Newfane on March 5 and stole an Xbox 360 and related games. Prosecutors said Merchant was seen leaving by the homeowner and later confessed to police.
In another case before Broderick on Tuesday, Charles D. Lamont, 45, of Murdock Road, Shelby, was sentenced to time served for a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated. He was arrested Oct. 15, 2006, in the Town of Lockport.

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>Two in DWI cases get almost identical sentences

LOCKPORT -- Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza imposed almost identical sentences Tuesday in two cases of drivers pleading guilty to felony counts of driving while intoxicated.
Brian B. Zwack, 25, of Nash Road, Wheatfield, was placed on five years' probation, ordered to perform 240 hours of community service and fined $1,000.

Harold D. Wollaber III, 24, of 18th Street, Niagara Falls, received the same sentence except that his fine was $2,500.
Zwack crashed his car into a ditch on Krueger Road in Wheatfield July 24. Wollaber was arrested May 23 on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara, when police clocked him driving 73 mph in a 45-mph zone.

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