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POLICE & COURTS

Aide to Ponzi scam artist pleads guilty to felony

A longtime secretary to Richard S. Piccoli, the scam artist who ran a Ponzi scheme and cheated investors out of millions of dollars, took a guilty plea in federal court Monday.

Kathleen "Kitty" Fuoco, 60, of Roosevelt Avenue in West Seneca, pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony and failing to file tax returns.

She worked for Piccoli, an Amherst businessman who is serving a 20-year prison term for cheating investors out of an estimated $25 million, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"In her plea, Fuoco admitted that she came to realize that the business was a scam, but still kept working there and failed to notify authorities about the criminal nature of the business," prosecutor Gretchen L. Wylegala said. "She also admitted failing to file tax returns when she worked for Piccoli."

She faces an Oct. 22 sentencing date before District Judge William M. Skretny.

Piccoli, now 83, was arrested in January 2008, following an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation division.

He went out of business after the arrest, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax fraud, and was sentenced last October.

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Holding center chief injured in Hamburg crash

Robert Koch, the acting superintendent for the Erie County Holding Center, escaped serious injury Monday morning in a multivehicle accident on Route 5 and Lake Avenue in Hamburg.

Koch had to be extricated from his car and received stitches, but did not appear to be seriously injured in the collision, which was reported at about 8:15 a.m., authorities said. The crash involved two other occupied vehicles and a parked car.

One other person required medical treatment. One of the other drivers was cited for unsafe lane change.

Mary Murray, spokeswoman for the Erie County Sheriff's Office, said the accident occurred while Koch was on his way into work.

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Victim in fatal shooting identified as Buffalo man

A 23-year-old Buffalo man has been identified as the victim in a fatal weekend shooting.

Darryl Berry died after he was shot at about 1:10 a.m. Saturday in the area of Auburn Avenue and Barton Street. Police responded to the scene after receiving a call of a person struck by gunfire.

Berry, who was on foot, was rushed by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center, where he later died.

Homicide detectives continue to investigate the murder and ask that anyone with information contact the Police Department's Confidential TIPCALL Line at 847-2255.

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Woman sought in robbery of Genesee St. HSBC bank

A woman robbed the HSBC branch on 2016 Genesee St. just after 9 a.m. Monday, according to Buffalo police.

Police say the suspect, a 5-foot-6-inch female, walked into the branch wearing a pink hooded sweat shirt and sunglasses. She handed the teller a note demanding money and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Anyone with information is asked to call or send a text message to the confidential TIPCALL line at 847-2255 or e-mail a tip to www.bpdny.org.

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Vandals, thieves hit cars, mailboxes in Amherst

Thieves and vandals were busy in two sets of incidents over the weekend in Amherst, destroying seven mailboxes in one area overnight Sunday and stealing $2,500 worth of cash and electronic equipment from 11 vehicles overnight Saturday.

Vandals ripped off seven mailboxes on Fifth Avenue, near Seabrook Drive, before tossing them into a ditch overnight Sunday, Amherst police said. The same crew apparently also broke into three vehicles in the area, but nothing was taken.

Overnight Saturday, thieves entered 11 vehicles in the Hopkins-Randwood-Heim area of Amherst, stealing six GPS units and five MP3 players, among other items. All the vehicles were parked on the street or in driveways on Randwood Drive, Alran Drive, Sandhollow Court, Sandelwood Drive and Bywater Court.

Amherst police believe all 11 vehicles were unlocked.

"We're making it too easy for the opportunistic thief," Assistant Police Chief Timothy M. Green said Monday.

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Kenmore man charged with 4th DWI in 10 years

A Kenmore man was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated Sunday for the fourth time in 10 years.

Michael P. Dauria, 27, of Washington Street, was arrested by Tonawanda city police at 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Police said Dauria tried to evade a DWI checkpoint, was arrested and refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

Dauria's license has been revoked since 2007 for an alcohol-related conviction, police said.

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Body of male hiker recovered at Zoar Valley

The body of a male hiker was recovered Monday afternoon by hikers at Zoar Valley, Cattaraugus County sheriff's officials reported.

The man's identity was not released. The cause or circumstances of his death were unclear. An autopsy is expected to be conducted today.

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