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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Man and woman charged in purse-snatching case

LOCKPORT -- A Lockport man was charged Tuesday with snatching a purse from a 65-year-old woman in the parking lot of the Walmart on South Transit Road.

Christopher Erickson, 29, of Ruhlmann Road, was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny. The driver of his getaway car, Lexie T.C. Quagliano, 26, of Slayton Settlement Road, Gasport, was charged Thursday with fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny, police said.

The victim was targeted while walking to her car in the parking lot at 5 p.m. The purse, valued at $580, contained credit cards and $320 in cash.

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Life in prison possible for area drug kingpin

A North Tonawanda man faces a possible life sentence after he pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony charge of conspiring to distribute cocaine.

Anthony Lamarand, 30, was involved in a large-scale drug-trafficking organization that operated in parts of Niagara and northern Erie counties between January and July 2009, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. McCabe.

McCabe said Lamarand distributed, on average, one kilogram of powder cocaine each month to multiple customers in the Northtowns. In addition, McCabe said, Lamarand fled the area on July 30, 2009, as federal authorities attempted to execute an arrest warrant in the case, but, in August 2009, Lamarand was later apprehended near Atlanta.

Lamarand's plea followed an investigation by members of the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force, the Niagara County Drug Task Force and the Niagara Falls Police Department.

He is scheduled to be sentenced at 12:30 p.m. in front of U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

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Guilty plea entered to domestic violence

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man pleaded guilty Thursday in Niagara County Court to two charges in a domestic violence case Sept. 19.

Thomas Prater, 35, of 18th Street, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal contempt and third-degree assault. he admitted violating an order of protection issued last Aug. 13.

Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza, who reduced bail to $25,000, from $100,000, said Prater could face consecutive sentences of up to one year in Niagara County Jail when sentenced Aug. 20.

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Equipment stolen on Whirlpool Avenue

NIAGARA FALLS -- A construction foreman found a hole cut in a fence in the 2300 block of Whirlpool Avenue on Wednesday morning and $7,300 in construction equipment stolen, Niagara Falls police said. Police said among items stolen were jackhammers, copper tubing, two generators and a chain saw.

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Buffalo man, 30, charged in May 25 stabbing death

A Buffalo man has been charged with the May slaying of a 61-year-old man in his Elmwood Avenue apartment.

Robert Mills, 30, is accused of killing Anthony A. LoCascio, whose body was found in his second-floor apartment in the early-morning hours of May 25.

Police accuse Mills of robbing LoCascio, then stabbing him to death. He has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery, police said Thursday.

Police provided no other details.

Homicide detectives also arrested Cherie Utter, 24, of no permanent address, and charged her with robbery in connection with the incident.

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Man gets 25 years to life for slaying best friend

Donnell "Coot" Lloyd was denounced as a menace Thursday as State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller sentenced him to 25 years to life in prison for fatally shooting his best friend, Larry Kemp, three years ago.

Lloyd, 30, had been a fugitive for almost two years until his capture in Syracuse last October. Prosecutors Thomas M. Finnerty and Patrick B. Shanahan urged the judge to impose the maximum prison term. Finnerty called Lloyd a "menace to society," noting he was on parole and cut off an electronic ankle bracelet when he fled after the shooting.

The prosecutors also noted Lloyd continues to deny responsibility for gunning down an unarmed man at close range at about 2 p.m. Sept. 23, 2007, outside Lloyd's Warring Avenue home.

Finnerty and Shanahan also noted no motive has ever been established for the shooting. Lloyd's ex-girlfriend, Natalie Robinson, testified that, from the second-floor bedroom she shared with Lloyd, she heard Kemp yell, "No, Coot, don't" and, "Coot, Coot, why would you do this?"

Lloyd was tracked in Syracuse, where he had been living with relatives.

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Clarence fire triggered when gas line ruptures

A natural gas line ruptured early Thursday morning in Clarence, sparking a small blaze, fire officials said.

The fire was reported at 2:55 a.m. at 8964 Wehrle Drive. It was unclear whether the fire was started by lightning from a storm that struck the region at about the same time.