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POLICE & COURTS

>400 tickets issued in Niagara Region effort

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. -- Niagara Regional Police issued nearly 400 tickets Tuesday during their ninth annual Traffic Safety and Awareness Day, called Operation All Hands on Deck. Officers were assigned to traffic enforcement near schools in the Niagara Region's 12 municipalities.

In all, officers stopped 513 vehicles, issuing 341 tickets for offensive driving violations, including speeding; 20 for seat belt and child safety restraint violations; 27 for traffic violations; five for driving offenses; two for drug possession.

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>Ex-employee ordered to pay $2.7 million

A Town of Tonawanda man who spent two years in federal prison for tax evasion has been ordered to pay a judgment of $2.7 million to his former employer.

The State Supreme Court summary judgment order directs Robert C. Piscitello, 48, to pay the money -- plus interest -- to International Chemical Corp., also known as Innovative Chemical, of Amherst.

Piscitello and his ex-employer have been locked in a legal battle for several years over allegations that Piscitello embezzled money while working as the company's controller before he was fired in 2004.

A lawsuit filed by the company alleges that Piscitello stole millions of dollars, an allegation he denies.

In 2005, Piscitello was sentenced to two years in federal prison for failing to report $2.3 million in income, but he denied stealing that money from his employer.

The recent order was issued by State Supreme Court Judge John A. Michalek.

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>Woman, companion face prostitution, drug charges

A Riverside woman and her male companion were arrested late Monday at their home on prostitution and narcotics charges in an undercover operation by Buffalo detectives, authorities said.

Heidi L. Blankenship, 26, was charged with prostitution, and Anthony S. Moudy, 21, was charged with promoting prostitution after they accepted $100 from a narcotics detective who was propositioned, according to police.

In arresting the couple at about 10:30 p.m., detectives searched their upper apartment on the 200 block of Laird Avenue and found 17 hypodermic needles containing heroin residue, as well as a scale used for weighing drugs, police said.

Blankenship and Moudy also were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

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>Troopers' Operation Impact results in four arrests

State police assigned to Operation Impact made four arrests in Buffalo on Labor Day. Arrested were:

* Darnell L. Brighon, 23, of Buffalo, stopped as a suspicious person at Broadway and Playter Street, who was found to be wanted in Buffalo on several warrants, including charges of second-degree assault and fourth-degree grand larceny. He was taken to the Erie County Holding Center and held for arraignment.

* John McMasters, 28, of Buffalo, a passenger in a car stopped at Broadway and Grey Street. Officers said McMasters had a rock of crack cocaine and a crack pipe. He was issued an appearance ticket for misdemeanor drug possession.

* Edgardo Molina-Fernandez, 42, of Buffalo, arrested on Swinburne Street on charges of driving while intoxicated and misdemeanor drug possession. He was issued appearance tickets.

* Amanda P. Stephens, 23, of Buffalo, stopped for a traffic violation on Genesee Street, who was found to be wanted in Cheektowaga on a warrant charging third-degree possession of stolen property. She was turned over to Cheektowaga police.

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>Bail denied on charges connected to fatal shooting

Hector "Indio" Gonzalez was ordered to remain jailed without bail Tuesday after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder and weapons charges in the fatal shooting of Edwin LaSalle two months ago.

Gonzalez, 35, formerly of Auburn Avenue, was tracked down in Puerto Rico last month by the U.S. Marshals Violent Felony Task Force. He was indicted after LaSalle, 23, of Lawn Avenue, died Aug. 6 in Erie County Medical Center.

Prosecutors said Gonzalez allegedly fled to Rochester and then left the country after shooting LaSalle in the head at about 4 p.m. July 31 outside his vehicle on Auburn Avenue near Dewitt Street.

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>Wales man faces charges after fight with parents

A Town of Wales man who fought with his parents and then barricaded himself in his bedroom wound up being pepper sprayed by police Monday night, authorities said.

Eric C. Seifert, 26, of East Creek Road, was charged with assault, harassment and resisting arrest, according to Erie County Sheriff's Deputies Tom Meredith and Tim Dusza, who arrived at the family residence in response to a domestic disturbance call at about 9 p.m.

When he was taken to the Holding Center in downtown Buffalo, Seifert again began fighting and was charged with an additional count of resisting arrest, the deputies said.

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