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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Sheriff's unit to patrol during trick-or-treating

LOCKPORT -- The Niagara County Sheriff's Department has assigned a task force for street patrol during the Halloween trick-or-treating hours this evening.

Several members of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Council will make sure that registered sex offenders are complying with state law, which prohibits them from offering treats to children in their homes on Halloween.

The task force -- made up of deputies and investigators, and parole and probation officers -- also will help keep pedestrians and motorists safe.

Residents who want to check for registered sex offenders can go online to www.ncsd.com and click on "Sex Offender Information."

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Copper piping stolen in house burglary

NEWFANE -- A foreclosed house in the 3000 block of Lockport-Olcott Road was burglarized and about 10 feet of copper piping stolen overnight Wednesday, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said Thursday.

An employee from McKnight, Hogan and Noonan said the house is owned by PNC Bank. Someone kicked open a door, went into the basement and removed the copper plumbing from the furnace, deputies said.

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Cocaine arrest follows Falls chase, tackle

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Niagara Avenue man was in the Niagara County Jail after police said they found him with two small bags of crack cocaine.

Carl S. Simmons, 20, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in City Court to third- and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He was ordered held on $10,000 bail.

Police said they had stopped him just after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on Cleveland Avenue after noticing he was acting nervously. He was charged with disorderly conduct after he began swearing and refused to place his hands on his vehicle, police said.

Officer Richard Fleck said Simmons then fled down Cleveland Avenue and was arrested following a chase and tackle by Officer Matthew Lepine.

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Popcorn fire prompts evacuation at school

SANBORN -- Students from the BOCES Niagara Vocational School were evacuated and sent to nearby Niagara Academy on Thursday after a class accidentally ignited a batch of popcorn in a closed oven.

Vocational teacher Vicki Bashaws' class set off the alarms and the Saunders Settlement Road school was evacuated at 9:38 a.m., Niagara County sheriff's deputies said.

BOCES maintenance staff member John Levandowski told deputies that the fire was put out with a fire extinguisher, but by then the classroom had filled with heavy smoke.

The fire rekindled a short time later but was quickly extinguished. Sanborn volunteer firefighters were called to ventilate classrooms.

All students, with the exception of A-wing, were allowed to return to classes by 10:10 a.m., and A-wing occupants, which include BOCES day care, returned to the Commons area of the school.

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More copper stolen from Wintergarden

NIAGARA FALLS -- Another copper theft was reported Wednesday by a member of the Wintergarden Development Group.

The member told police that someone entered the building sometime during the past week, spray painted the walls and took $3,000 in copper from an outside roof and $400 in tools from inside the building. No signs of forced entry were found.

The city Public Works Department had reported Tuesday that $3,000 in copper wiring, as well as junction boxes worth hundreds of dollars, were taken from an overhead walkway running from the Wintergarden to TeleTech on First Street.

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Falls rapist sentenced to 18 years in prison

LOCKPORT -- Convicted rapist Joshua L. Whetstone was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison and 15 years of probation-like post-release supervision by Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

Whetstone, 36, of Ontario Avenue, Niagara Falls, was convicted by a jury Aug. 7 of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, fourth-degree weapons possession and three counts of first-degree criminal sexual act.

He raped a 24-year-old Amherst woman at knifepoint Oct. 28, 2007, after picking her up in downtown Buffalo and having her drive him to a Niagara Falls residence.

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