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POLICE & COURTS

Traffic stop results in two drug arrests

FREDONIA -- An Erie, Pa., man and a Fredonia resident were each charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after a vehicle was stopped for a traffic infraction on Berry Road in Pomfret, state police said Wednesday.

Kahl S. VanKoughnet, 25, of Erie, was found with less than 25 grams of marijuana and a pipe containing residue, police said. Benjamin C. Steger, 24, of Fredonia, also was found with less than 25 grams of marijuana and two pipes, police said.

Both were passengers in the vehicle. They are scheduled to appear in Pomfret Town Court Tuesday.

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Man, 41, killed as SUV plunges into Welland Canal

WELLAND, Ont. -- A 41-year-old Welland man was killed at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday when his sport utility vehicle plunged into the Welland Canal, Niagara Regional Police said.

The victim, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the victim's 2004 Ford Explorer was eastbound on Maple Avenue and struck a curb, then a parked car, before continuing through the intersection of Frazer Street and into the parking lot at St. Andrew's United Church, where it struck a concrete abutment, then plunged into the canal, police said.

Niagara Regional Police divers and a crane were dispatched to the scene.

Witnesses are asked to contact police at (905) 688-4111, Ext. 5500.

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Passenger drinking rum draws notice of police

FREDONIA -- A Warren, Pa., man drank rum as he rode in a vehicle on Route 60 in Pomfret, state police said Wednesday.

John T. Jarjabka Jr., 20, was cited for violation counts of possessing alcohol under age 21 and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle on a public highway.

Jarjabka was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Trooper Ralph Stronner for a suspected taillight violation.

Jarjabka was issued tickets to appear in Pomfret Town Court on April 6.

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IRS employee received rental assistance illegally

A local employee of the Internal Revenue Service admitted Wednesday that she failed to report her income while receiving federal rental assistance over a period of five years.

Candace M. Morrow, 32, of Erb Street, failed to report her IRS income while applying for assistance under a U.S. Housing and Urban Development program set up to help the needy.

Appearing before U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny, she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft of public money. Under federal sentencing guidelines, she could face a prison term of six to 12 months when sentenced July 12.

According to court papers, Morrow has worked for the IRS since 2004. Her annual salary has ranged from $23,606 in her first year to $42,861 in 2009.
Morrow obtained $32,358 in federal rent subsidies between 2005 and 2009, according to the plea agreement.

Authorities said Morrow, who works in an IRS call center, likely will lose her IRS job.

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Fire victims' relatives begin lawsuit in deaths

Relatives of the father and two daughters who died in a fire last December in their Cheektowaga home after calling 911 from a cell phone have taken steps to begin a lawsuit against Erie County and other governments.

Lawyer John P. Feroleto this month obtained an order from State Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Drury that requires Erie County, the Town of Cheektowaga, the Village of Depew and two wireless providers to preserve all records related to the Dec. 23 blaze.

Feroleto represents Zia Ansari on behalf of his sisters Faaiza Ansari and Saaiba Ansari, who died with their father, Mohammad, in the fire. Lawyer David Zeigler represents Mohammad's wife, Sohaila.

Town and county officials defend their handling of the call.

The fire highlights how hard it is to locate a wireless 911 caller.

There was a 28-minute delay from the time one daughter dialed 911 to the moment firefighters arrived at the Hyland Road home. The caller was not able to say her location or the nature of the emergency.

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