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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

59 neglected cats found in Cambria; couple charged

CAMBRIA -- A Cambria couple has been charged with torturing or injuring animals and their Townline Road home has been condemned after police found 54 neglected cats inside.

The charges were lodged against Gail A. and Michael R. Stalker, both of 4900 Townline Road.

Officials of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said all the animals will be destroyed because of their condition.

A National Grid collector alerted the Niagara County Sheriff's Office when he went to turn the power off and noticed a foul odor and numerous cats at the home.

The conditions in the home were described as hazardous for both humans and animals, with urine and feces throughout the home.

The house was condemned by the Niagara County Health Department, which advised Cambria Town Building Inspector Donald Lane that urine and feces had soaked into the floors over time.

A patrol arrived at 10:36 a.m. Tuesday, and deputies counted 10 cats in a picture window and said they were unable to make contact with the homeowners.

The Stalkers, who had been living with a relative in Lockport, are due in Cambria Town Court on Sept. 29.

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Drugging case ends in plea to misdemeanor

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man who had been accused of drugging a woman before having sex with her March 25 pleaded guilty to a drug possession misdemeanor Wednesday, as a prosecutor said he couldn't make the rape charge stick.

Rafael Irizarry, 22, of 23rd Street, was sentenced by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza to time served, about six months. However, the guilty plea equals a violation of his federal probation on another drug charge, which will bring him about four years in federal prison, Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict said.

Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco said he had trouble proving the rape case because the 17-year-old woman didn't know for sure what happened after she passed out. Irizarry was accused of giving her Xanax pills. Another witness said the woman told her she had sex with Irizarry, but the victim seemed to be on drugs when she said that.

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One charge dismissed in bribery allegations

LOCKPORT -- One of four felony charges against a Town of Tonawanda woman and her medical collection agency was dismissed Wednesday by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

The judge dismissed a charge of rewarding official misconduct against Deborah A. Kantor, 55, of Lorna Lane. But she allowed charges of second-degree bribery, attempted third-degree grand larceny and first-degree filing a false instrument to stand.

In another ruling, Sperrazza ordered a separate trial on the bribery charge Oct. 5. She said trying Kantor on all charges at once would have too prejudicial to co-defendant Amy L. Gardner, 31, of Tonawanda, an employee of Kantor's who faces only the larceny and false instrument charges. Now Gardner will wait for a later trial date.

Kantor and her company, H.I.S. Holdings, are accused of paying a Niagara County Social Services Department caseworker $50 for every Medicaid client identification number he sent the company. The caseworker, Michael Albrecht, 46, pleaded guilty in June to taking more than $50,000 in bribes from 2000 to 2007; he is awaiting sentencing.

The state is suing Kantor for nearly $3 million in damages and recoveries of allegedly fraudulent Medicaid payments.

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Lockport man gets up to 4 years in sex case

LOCKPORT -- A Union Street man who had sex with two 14-year-old girls, producing a baby with the first, was sentenced to 1 1/3 to four years in prison Wednesday by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Benjamin C. Vogt, 26, was sentenced for sexual misconduct in the second incident, which occurred in December 2006, and for violating his probation on an attempted second-degree rape conviction from 2005.

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