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Man accused of rape allegedly caught in act

LOCKPORT -- A Pine Street man accused of rape is being held in Niagara County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

James J. Drake, 46, was caught in the act of attacking a woman after police responded to a disturbance call at a John Street home just after 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. He was charged with first-degree rape and also endangering the welfare of a child in the house at the time of the attack.

Police said Drake did not know the victim but escorted her home Wednesday. Someone who heard the victim's screams contacted police.


Career scam artist facing new charges

LOCKPORT -- Randall K. McGovern, a Niagara Falls man with a long criminal record of scams, was arraigned in Niagara County Court on more such charges Thursday.

McGovern, 40, of 58th Street, pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny and second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

He is accused of buying a 46-inch television set from a Niagara Falls appliance store June 24 and bouncing a check for $2,157; ordering an $8,400 industrial range from an Orchard Park store Nov. 17 and taking the range home after pretending to be an employee of a local construction company; and bringing a stolen excavator from Tampa, Fla., to Niagara Falls last summer and selling it to a company there for $10,000.

McGovern has 44 arrests and 28 convictions all over Western New York since 1992. He's currently serving a 3 1/2 -to-seven-year state prison term imposed in January for an Erie County forgery and grand larceny conviction.


Cocaine dealer gets a chance for treatment

LOCKPORT -- An admitted cocaine dealer from Buffalo will have a chance to avoid prison time thanks to the state's new judicial diversion program, Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza said Thursday.

Sperrazza accepted a guilty plea to third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance from Antonio Staley, 38, of East Amherst Street. He sold nearly an ounce of cocaine to a police informant in the Town of Lockport on March 26, 2009.

But defense attorney Robert Convissar persuaded Sperrazza to admit Staley to the diversion program, set up by state law last year.

It gives drug defendants a chance to have their convictions canceled if they complete a treatment program supervised by a special drug court. If Staley fails in that one-to-two-year program, Sperrazza could send him to prison for as long as nine years.


Forged checks suspect enters not-guilty plea

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man accused of depositing four forged checks totaling $2,220 into his bank account and then withdrawing the money pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment Thursday in Niagara County Court.

Michael T. Shaner, 38, of South Avenue, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

The indictment accuses him of depositing checks written on a closed business account at Woodforest Bank at the Niagara Falls Walmart between Aug. 11 and 21.


DWI charge lodged after crash of pickup

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Michigan Avenue driver who struck a light pole and tree in the 700 block of Main Street was charged late Wednesday with driving while intoxicated.

Police said they found William T. Sweeney, 55, sitting on the curb uninjured near his 1995 pickup, which was heavily damaged.


Father, sons charged after marijuana raid

NIAGARA FALLS -- A father and two sons with connections to the Eighth Street Street Boyz drug gang appeared Wednesday in City Court after a police raid Tuesday turned up five pounds of marijuana valued at $10,000.

James F. Ashley Sr., 46, of Seventh Street, and his two sons, Jamil, 18, and Michael, 20, both of Midway Avenue, Buffalo, pleaded not guilty to felony second-degree possession of marijuana. Michael Ashley also was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, police said, after police found two more bags in his clothing.

Police who raided the Seventh Street home Tuesday also found a digital scale and $2,529 in cash. The three were remanded to Niagara County Jail on $2,500 bail each, with a return court date of Monday.


Ex-Subway employee denies guilt in theft

LOCKPORT -- An Appleton woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Niagara County Court to charges that she stole about $4,500 from a Subway restaurant in North Tonawanda while she was working there last fall.

April M. Does, 25, of Hess Road, a former North Tonawanda resident, pleaded not guilty to third-degree grand larceny. Assistant District Attorney Charles F. Pitarresi said the thefts from the till at the 966 Payne Ave. location, operated by Sado Gas Sales, allegedly occurred between Sept. 2 and Oct. 23.