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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Thefts from vehicles in Pendleton area probed

PENDLETON -- Investigators are looking into a series of thefts from unlocked vehicles in driveways in the Campbell Boulevard area early Tuesday.

Three reports of overnight thefts in the 7000 block of Campbell were reported, with a fourth theft in the 4900 block of Oakwood Drive believed to be related, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said.

In each case, the vehicles were unlocked. Items stolen included cigarettes, cell phones, iPods, backpacks, cash, credit cards, wallets, radar detectors, global positioning systems, binoculars and a stereo receiver. Some items have been recovered.

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Man found not guilty in theft of utility wire

LOCKPORT -- After a three-day trial in Niagara County Court, a Cambria man was found not guilty Wednesday of stealing National Grid aluminum service wire from a Heath Street site.

Michael Dean, 24, of North Ridge Road, had been charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and second-degree criminal mischief in connection with the Aug. 28 theft.

His co-defendant, Joseph Schmidli, 23, of North Ridge Road, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property June 8.

Police said the 12 coils of wire, valued at more than $2,500, had been stored on pallets on Heath Street. Schmidli will be sentenced Aug. 16.

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Undercover drug sale may land woman in prison

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls woman who pleaded guilty Wednesday in Niagara County Court to selling cocaine to an undercover officer could face up to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Angela M. Colavecchia, 35, of Walnut Avenue, pleaded to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Judge Matthew J. Murphy III set sentencing for Aug. 18. She also faces a year of post-release supervision.

Colavecchia had originally been charged with three counts third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and three counts of sale of a controlled substance, on Jan. 27, in Niagara Falls.

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Safe containing $7,000 stolen from apartment

A safe containing more than $7,000 in cash, as well as some Canadian and U.S. coins and New York Lottery tickets, was stolen from an elderly woman's Riverside apartment Wednesday, according to Buffalo police reports.

The 78-year-old Albemarle Street woman told police the burglar got into her apartment while she was away. The victim said she had locked her door but told police there were no signs of forced entry.

Northwest District police are investigating.

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North Tonawanda man imprisoned for rape

LOCKPORT -- A 22-year-old North Tonawanda man who called himself "mentally, 17 years old," apologized Wednesday for having sex with a 14-year-old girl Nov. 18, then was sentenced to three years in prison.

Aaron M. Coughenour, of Tremont Street, had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree rape March 17.

But Judge Matthew J. Murphy III denied Coughenour's request for one year in Niagara County Jail. Coughenour, who left the courtroom in tears, also faces 10 years post-release supervision and is required to register as a sex offender, Murphy said.

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Donatello told the court that Coughenour knew the victim's age, even though he denied so, and in a statement to police said he had "too many women to count" and had been with as many as 200 girls.

Murphy also said Coughenour has committed a crime every year since 2004.

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Two accused of fraud at border crossings

Two men who attempted to enter the United States using fraudulent methods were arrested on by federal authorities in separate incidents, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported Wednesday.

Authorities said Sebastian M. Palacio, 20, a Colombian national who had previously been denied a visa to enter the U.S., was caught at the Rainbow Bridge Monday attempting to enter the country with another man's passport.

Less than 24 hours later, Mirza Ballee, 34, a Guyanese citizen who had been previously deported from the U.S., was arrested at the Peace Bridge after he also allegedly presented a passport that was not his.

Palacio and Ballee were both charged with false statements and misuse of a passport. They were detained pending prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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Auto impound worker attacked in office

An employee of Buffalo's auto impound on Dart Street was assaulted Tuesday afternoon by a man in his office, Buffalo police said.

The attacker kicked in the office door, grabbed the employee around the neck and choked him, police said. The victim sought medical treatment at a local hospital.

Northwest District police are investigating.

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