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No charges to be filed against Reiter on complaint

Niagara County District Attorney Michael J. Violante said Friday he will not file a charge against Town Supervisor Steven L. Reiter for an incident in which a town resident claimed the supervisor pushed him.

Violante said he interviewed several witnesses who were in Town Hall during a heated exchange last week between Reiter and the resident, William Kraft, and that he had determined a charge was not warranted.

The district attorney began an independent investigation of Kraft's complaint after Kraft told Town Police Chief Christopher Salada on Tuesday that he wanted to pursue a harassment charge against Reiter.

"I didn't think it was appropriate for the Town of Lewiston police to investigate the town supervisor," Violante said.

Kraft last week gave a written statement to state police in which he accused the supervisor of pushing him into a door in Town Hall during a discussion about a firing range on Harold Road.

Kraft is one of several residents living near the town-owned firing range who complained Monday night about noise, quality of life, safety and environmental concerns surrounding the use of the facility by area law enforcement agencies.

Salada said he plans to meet with the residents as soon as possible to work out a solution to their concerns. In the meantime, he said, he has shut down the range on nights and weekends.

"We don't want to fight with the neighbors," Salada said. "We don't want them to have their quality of life disturbed. That's not what we're there for. We're there for training only."

Salada said the firing range does not pose a safety hazard to nearby residents because of three berms that surround the outdoor facility. Residents on Monday said they were concerned that stray bullets could hit a nearby house or resident.

Kraft was in Town Hall last week to deliver a written complaint about the firing range when the incident with Reiter occurred. Kraft accused Reiter of leaning against him and pushing him with his hands. Reiter claimed he only put his hands on Kraft as he tried to leave the room because Kraft was yelling.

Kraft is not the first to accuse Reiter, the former highway superintendent, of threatening behavior.

A 2003 letter written by then-Town Attorney Earl W. Brydges Jr. to Reiter described a meeting in which Reiter "made a threatening gesture" and "threatened to do bodily harm" to D. James Langlois, then a town councilman. The letter surfaced last year during election season.

Reiter said he had no physical contact with Langlois during the 2003 meeting and was responding to Langlois' pointing his finger in Reiter's face.

A lawsuit filed against Reiter last year by Mario Pugliese alleged that Reiter threatened Pugliese with "physical violence" in Town Hall. The two at the time were involved in a property dispute.

Reiter called the allegations in the lawsuit "absurd" and said he was asking Pugliese to go outside, not threatening him with violence.

Michael Dowd, town attorney, called the three accusations against Reiter "an opportunity by people to try to embarrass the guy. That's all."

e-mail: djgee@buffnews.com

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