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POLICE & COURTS

Man sent to prison for dog-fighting venture

A Buffalo man was sentenced to a year and a day in prison with three years of supervised release after he was convicted of a felony count of sponsoring an animal in an animal fighting venture, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. reported.

Leon Nelson, 41, was convicted of sponsoring and exhibiting a dog named "EJ" in the June 20, 2009 fighting venture with another dog named "Batman," for "the purposes of sport, wagering and entertainment," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango.

Mango said Nelson wagered and lost $4,000 on the fight.

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Boy, 11, struck by car; driver charged with DWI

An 11-year-old boy was in critical condition at Women and Children's Hospital today after he was struck by an alleged drunk driver on the Cattaraugus Reservation Thursday night, the Erie County Sheriff's Office reported.

A little before 9 p.m., the boy, whose name is being withheld, was attempting to cross Erie Road in the Town of Brant when he was struck by a car driven by Susan M. Hilliker, 52, of Silver Creek, who was westbound on Erie Road.

The boy suffered injuries to his head and body and was transported by Mercy Flight to Woman and Children's.

Hilliker was charged with driving while intoxicated.

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No challenges planned in disciplinary actions

The three off-duty Buffalo police officers involved in a bar fight last month will not challenge the disciplinary actions taken against them by the department, police officials said Friday.

Officers Joseph Wendel, Joseph Paskiewicz and Christopher Pliszka have been suspended for 15 days without pay.

The action, finalized at a hearing earlier this week, was taken in response to a fight involving an off-duty Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police officer who was punched after he tried to warn them other patrons at Page's Grill and Bar on Transit Road, Lancaster, were taking cell phone pictures of them drinking in uniform.

An investigation was continuing into whether their off-duty supervisor, Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski, failed to take steps to halt the incident.

The four officers had stopped at the tavern following the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association's annual awards dinner on May 7 at Salvatore's Italian Gardens restaurant, also on Transit.

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West Side man, 31, shot three times in the back

A 31-year-old West Side man was hospitalized in stable condition Friday after being shot three times in the lower back early in the morning on West Utica Street.

Mark Anthony Delgado, of Hampshire Avenue, was shot by someone who fired three or four shots into the side window of a West Utica residence near Massachusetts Avenue at about 1:30 a.m., police stated.

Delgado was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he was treated and then moved to a regular room.

Witnesses told police they saw the assailants flee west on West Utica in a two-door brown or gold Cadillac.

Anyone with any information about the shooting is asked to call or text the Buffalo police confidential tip line at 847-2255.

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Shotgun blast injures four in first block of Freund

Four females suffered superficial wounds late Friday when they were struck by pellets from an apparent shotgun blast on Freund Street, according to Buffalo police.

The shooting occurred about 9:30 p.m. in the first block of Freund. Rural/Metro Medical Services transported the four to Erie County Medical Center, where they were being evaluated and treated for minor injuries.

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Three tied to trafficking of stolen baby formula

Three men were arrested Friday by federal authorities for allegedly defrauding federal food programs by trading cash for benefits and trafficking in stolen baby formula, according to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.

Arrested when federal agents raided Zips Food and Beverage at 896 Niagara St. were Saleh Almahadri, 65; Riyadh Almahadri, 32; and Karen Almahadri, 22.

All were charged with defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

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Four face charges in jobless claims scam

Four Buffalo residents face charges of grand larceny and felony falsifying business records for filing false claims with the state Department of Labor and collecting unemployment benefits they weren't entitled to, state police said Friday.

The suspects and accusations follow:

Denise Middlebrooks, 31, collecting $6,425 from September 2009 to February 2010; Amber L. Martinez, 29, collecting $3,665 from July to November 2009; James E. Thomas, 52, collecting $3,628 from June 2008 to March 2009; and Quiyana C. Goree, 28, Buffalo collecting $3,362 from July to October 2009.

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