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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

>Ex-worker spared prison in embezzlement case

LOCKPORT -- A former office employee at Smokin's Joe's in Sanborn, charged with putting tens of thousand of dollars in her own bank account over 3 1/2 years, avoided jail time Monday and was sentenced to five years' probation.

Grace M. Price, 33, of Minnick Road, admitted on July 6 that she had committed third-degree grand larceny, running her bank card through a card reader and putting the money in her own account. She agreed to to pay back $76,941 to Smokin' Joe's and another $7,694 in probation fees. She could have received up to five years in prison.

In Niagara County Court on Monday, Price apologized to Smokin' Joe's and said she "deeply regrets" what she did, noting that it started small to get help for her daughter, who has physical problems, and then got out of control.

County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III said he was skeptical that she didn't derive some personal benefit because she stole "more than some people make in a year," but he sentenced her to probation because she had no record and needs a job to pay back the money.

Price also must must have budget counseling and a mental health evaluation, write a letter of apology, perform 100 hours of community service, pay $800 a month toward her repayment, and make current and prospective employers aware of this sentence.

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>Man accused of smuggling heroin into Holding Center

A Lockport man is facing charges after allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin into the Erie County Holding Center for an inmate he was going to visit, Erie County sheriff's officials reported.

Richard Muth, 32, was arrested Saturday after being spotted by Deputy Neal Russo with a small packet of white powder when he registered to visit an inmate.

He was subsequently charged with promoting prison contraband and criminal possession of a controlled substance and taken into custody at the Holding Center pending arraignment.

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