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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Motorcyclist injured in April 27 crash dies

NIAGARA FALLS -- A city man critically injured in an motorcycle crash April 27 at Buffalo Avenue and 63rd Street has died of injuries.

Joseph Kilmer, 19, of Packard Road, died Tuesday in Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo. He had been in a medically induced coma since the crash, authorities said. Police said he was traveling at a high rate of speed and may have run a red light before colliding with the side of a pickup.

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Black Pearl target of arson and burglary

OLCOTT -- The owners of the 73-foot Black Pearl brigantine said Wednesday that its Liberty Excursions will soon resume after a suspicious fire Saturday caused $10,000 damage to the $2.2 million ship.

Sheriff's investigators said the fire, which broke out at about 6 a.m., is considered a burglary and arson, with the fire set at two points and the cabin broken into.

"We plan on getting our equipment replaced, and hopefully we will be out in a week with passengers," said the ship's owner, Amanda Alexander

Niagara County Historical Society President Lee Simonson, who is coordinating the Black Pearl historical tours of the lower Niagara River, suggested excursions could begin in early July.

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Impostor pleads guilty in robbery scheme

LOCKPORT -- A North Tonawanda woman who posed as a prostitute to help her boyfriend in a robbery scheme pleaded guilty to a felony Wednesday in Niagara County Court.

Melissa J. Moeller, 25, of Center Avenue, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted third-degree robbery and was scheduled for sentencing Aug. 11 by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

The boyfriend, Gerald J. Guercio, 29, was placed on five years' probation by Murphy on Friday.

Moeller said that on Dec. 13, a man came to the apartment and she left with $70 he placed on a table. Guercio, feigning outrage, then entered and chased him out. She said it was the third time they'd pulled the scam, set up via a telephone dating chat line.

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Stubborn door foils drugstore burglary bid

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Buffalo Avenue drugstore that had been burglarized previously was targeted again -- but this time, unsuccessfully.

An alarm drew police to MacLeod's Drug Store, 8672 Buffalo Ave., at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, when they discovered a would-be burglar was unable to pry open the front door. Damage was estimated at $500.

Police said a white minivan, possibly a Chrysler, was seen leaving the area. Video surveillance tapes are being reviewed, police added.

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Witness' lie to police aids abuse case suspect

LOCKPORT -- After new information showed a key prosecution witness lied to police, a Rochester man who had been charged with sexually abusing a Lockport girl three years ago was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor Wednesday in Niagara County Court.

Shaka Z. Hodge, 35, of Rochester, a former Lockport resident, admitted to endangering the welfare of a child and was scheduled for sentencing Sept. 8 by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. Hodge will not have to register as a sex offender.

Murphy dismissed two felony sexual abuse counts, leaving only misdemeanor charges against Hodge. He had been accused of improperly touching a then-13-year-old girl July 26, 2007, in his Lockport home after she saw pornographic video clips on his computer. The latter act constituted the endangerment, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello said.

She told Murphy that Social Services records, unsealed by court order and obtained on Monday, caught the witness in "a damning inconsistency and fabrication" that crippled the felony case.

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EMT couple injured by assault suspect

NIAGARA FALLS -- Niagara Falls couple working as Rural/Metro emergency medical technicians were injured Wednesday morning as they attempted to remove a highly intoxicated woman from her home, police said.

Garry and Sara Bluhm attempted to carry the woman downstairs from an upper bedroom after she refused to walk, police said, but the woman resisted, pushing Garry Bluhm into a railing and punching his wife in the face and scratching her. Police said an ambulance was dispatched for the injured EMTs.

Meanwhile, Michelle A. Kelly, 55, of 23rd Street, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault just after 7:30 a.m.

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Guilty plea entered in sale of painkillers

LOCKPORT -- A Dysinger Road woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in Niagara County Court to illegally selling painkillers to an undercover police officer last fall.

Debra S. Dye, 48, admitted to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and was scheduled for sentencing Aug. 25 by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

She was indicted for selling hydrocodone and acetominophen Oct. 8 and 14 in the Town of Lockport.

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