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POLICE & COURTS

Sept. 30 sentencing set in child porn case

A 45-year-old Buffalo man faces the possibility of a lengthy prison term after pleading guilty to distributing, receiving and possessing images of child pornography.

James W. Skrok, of Clinton Street, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara on Tuesday, and he faces a Sept. 30 sentencing date.

Skrok was arrested by FBI agents last year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said.

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Ex-bouncer gets prison for attack on patron

A former bouncer was sentenced Tuesday to 3 1/2 years in prison for slamming a bar patron's head to the sidewalk and leaving him deaf in one ear.

Charles Kurkowski, 30, of Derby, was ordered by Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk to be taken from court in handcuffs during the midmorning sentencing. He had been free on bail.

Kurkowski expressed remorse for the injuries suffered by Jared N. Underberg, 22, but did not admit guilt for the incident outside the former Quote bar at Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Stree at about 3 a.m. Nov. 14, 2008.

Prosecutor Amy B. Benedict said Kurkowski was convicted March 24 of second-degree assault for the incident.

The judge found Kurkowski guilty after a five-day non-jury trial.

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Ruling expected July 19 in Nushawn Williams case

State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski said Tuesday he will rule in a month on efforts by Nushawn Williams' latest lawyer to dismiss a reckless endangerment case and release from custody the man who infected at least 13 young women the HIV the virus that causes AIDS.

Following a hearing on the motion of attorney Daniel P. Grasso, the judge said he will rule July 19.

Michalski 6 ruled in May that Assistant State Attorney General Wendy Whiting had proved there was probable cause that Williams remains a threat to society. But Grasso later filed dismissal motions, arguing that his jailed client isn't covered by the now-three-year-old civil containment law.

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Guilty plea entered in Tonawanda slaying

A Town of Tonawanda man pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree manslaughter for shooting a man on Henderson Avenue last summer.

Michael A. Campanella, 21, of Colvin Avenue, was told by Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka that he faces 20 years in prison when he returns to court July 21.

Campanella killed Thomas J. Newton, 32, last Aug. 14. He initially was charged with second-degree murder.

He pleaded guilty without comment.

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Ex-housing administrator pleads guilty, resigns

An administrator with the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority pleaded guilty to an extortion charge Tuesday and is resigning from his job.

John F. Fisher Jr., 50, of Getzville, admitted to using his position with the authority to pressure a private contractor into doing roofing work on a private home in Sanborn, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"Fischer admitted that he offered to issue 'change orders,' which authorize additional payments to contractors in order to reimburse the contractor for the private work," prosecutor John E. Rogowski said.

FBI agents arrested Fischer, and he was suspended from his $62,000-a-year job in June 2008 after a lengthy federal investigation into allegations that Fischer was shaking down contractors.

He faces an Oct. 1 sentencing date before Arcara.

At the time of his arrest, Fischer had been a Housing Authority employee for more than 20 years, and he held the title of administrator for capital improvements.

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Man ordered to prison in pedestrian fatality

A Town of Tonawanda man was taken into custody Tuesday to begin the three- to nine-year prison term State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller ordered for his fatal hit-and-run crash involving a Kenmore pedestrian.

Paul J. Modica, 42, of Bathurst Drive, had pleaded guilty March 29 to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and drunken driving in the death of Russell Reuman, 55.

Reuman was struck by Modica's pickup as he crossed Military Road at Victoria Boulevard in Kenmore at about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14.

Modica posted a blood-alcohol reading of 0.24 percent.

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Body of man recovered after fall into gorge

A 21-year-old Niagara Falls, Ont., man fell to his death in the Niagara Gorge early Tuesday morning, police said.

Police were called to River Road, near Otter Street, at about 12:20 a.m. Rescuers rappeled into the gorge and found the man's body after a brief search.

The man, whose name has not been released, was with several friends at the time he fell, Niagara Regional Police said. Foul play is not suspected.

Anyone with information is asked to call Niagara Regional Police at (905) 688-4111, Ext. 2200.

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