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POLICE & COURTS

Cause of house fire probed in Batavia

BATAVIA -- Batavia firefighters early Thursday were called to battle a fire at a house on Morton Avenue in the city.

The fire started in the basement of the single-family, 2 1/2 -story, wood-frame house, where firefighters found two appliances that were burning. The cause of the fire was still under investigation. Investigators don't believe the blaze was suspicious.

Damage to the building was estimated at $2,500 and $1,500 to its contents.

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Task force charges Alexander man in raid

ALEXANDER -- An Alexander man was charged with selling and possessing cocaine and other drugs Wednesday following an investigation by the Genesee County Local Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Charles Thigpen "Gus" Williams, 31, of Cookson Road, is accused of selling cocaine and other controlled substances in and around the Batavia/Alexander area. After executing a search warrant at his residence, law enforcement officials seized unspecified quantities of both crack and powder cocaine, hydrocodone pills, suboxone pills and $777 in cash.

Williams was charged with one count of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a Class B felony, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.

He was arraigned in Alexander Town Court and held in the Genesee County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail. Law enforcement officials are continuing their investigation and said additional charges are pending.

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SWAT teams arrest two on cocaine charges

Two men have been arrested on multiple charges of cocaine possession.

Joshua John, 30, of Route 438, Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, and Asa Washburn, 22, of Commercial Street, Farnham, were arrested early Wednesday after the Sheriff's Office SWAT teams from Erie and Chautauqua counties executed search warrants at the suspects' homes.

John also was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Two children younger than 5 were home at the time of the raid, Erie County sheriff's officials said.

In John's home, police also found a homemade explosive device that was turned over to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Both John and Washburn are being held in Erie County Holding Center pending arraignment in Brant Town Court.

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Mushrooms, marijuana seized in Batavia raid

BATAVIA -- A yearlong investigation into the sale of cocaine and other illegal drugs in and around Batavia culminated Wednesday in the arrest of a Tracy Avenue man.

Dyllon E. Soccio, 20, was allegedly found to be in possession of three-quarters of a pound of mushrooms, 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana, an unspecified quantity of powder cocaine, Hydrocodone pills, Valium and $2,096 in cash when members of the Genesee County Local Drug Enforcement Task Force executed a search warrant at his home.

Soccio was charged with one count each of fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a Class C felony, and criminal possession of marijuana in the second degree, a Class D felony. He also faces three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a Class A misdemeanor.

Soccio was arraigned in Batavia City Court and held without bail in Genesee County Jail. Law enforcement officials said their investigation is continuing and additional charges are pending.

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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.

Detective Sgt. James Lonergan led the investigation. He was assisted by Detective Scott Malec and other members of the department's Homicide Squad.

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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.

The Harris Hill Fire Company responded. Firefighters stood by to make sure the fire didn't spread until National Fuel officials were able to shut the gas line off.

No injuries were reported.