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Royalton man pleads guilty to attempted robbery

A Royalton man pleaded guilty Friday in Niagara County Court to charges that he robbed a man after luring him to a Walmart parking lot through Craigslist.

Joshua Bennett, 22, of Akron Road, also pleaded guilty to the attempted burglary of a neighbor last February. He could face up to seven years behind bars.

Bennett pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery and attempted third-degree robbery when Judge Matthew J. Murphy III committed to concurrent sentences of up to seven years.

Bennett said he advertised a computer on Craigslist on April 21 and later, when the victim, a Rochester man, arrived at the South Transit Road Walmart, he pointed a BB gun at him and robbed him of $1,000.

Niagara County sheriff's deputies said two Lockport men, John Taylor and Christopher Greene, came to the victim's aid and subdued Bennett until authorities arrived.

Bennett also admitted to attempting to enter his next-door neighbor's home on Feb. 11 to steal about $400 in change.

Bennett was ordered to pay restitution and cooperate with police in other crimes relating to the computer. He remains free on bail pending sentencing Aug. 24.

In other cases:

* A Buffalo man pleaded guilty to drug charges and could face the next few years of his life in state prison.

Teddrick A. Gilmer, 28, a repeat felon, was arrested for cocaine possession on July 13, 2008. He also had been convicted of a violent felony robbery in 2003.

Gilmer, who pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, could face four years in state prison.

* A Niagara Falls man, who was branded a "professional burglar" by the judge, asked to serve more time in Niagara County County Jail during sentencing proceedings Friday.

Michael C. Stewart, 42, of Niagara Avenue, is trying to help others through his "Alternative to Aggressions" program and needs more time to get the project off the ground, said his attorney, A. Joseph Catalano, who asked Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza to extend his time in the county jail.

Sperrazza granted a 30-day adjournment of sentencing, to July 23.

"In my 14 years as an attorney I've never seen a client do anything like this," Catalano said after the court session.

Stewart received a break in exchange for helping prosecutors in the Robert E. Johnson murder case. Though Stewart was never called to the stand, he did testify in a pretrial hearing in the case. Johnson was convicted of murdering his wife on Oct. 5.

Stewart has been arrested 43 time and convicted 17 -- five for felonies. He could have been sentenced to life in prison. But because of his help in the Johnson case, he will likely serve two to four years in prison.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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