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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

>Robber of Falls bank gets up to 5-year term

LOCKPORT -- A Town of Tonawanda man who robbed a Niagara Falls bank last year was sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in state prison Tuesday by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Jason S. Simmons, 28, of Parker Boulevard, had been on parole from a 2006 robbery conviction when he used a note to steal $4,956 from the M&T Bank branch on Military Road May 6, 2009. A fingerprint left on the holdup note was matched to Simmons.

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>Attorney accused of DWI specialized in such cases

ROCHESTER -- A Buffalo-area personal injury attorney who specializes in driving while intoxicated cases was himself arrested late Friday by state troopers for DWI at a sobriety checkpoint in Rochester, state police reported Tuesday.

Christopher D. D'Amato, 41, of Foxwood Lane, Clarence, was charged with DWI and cited for unsafe backing of a vehicle on the westbound section of Interstate 490.

D'Amato was arrested about 9:45 p.m. by Trooper Irene Allen. Police said D'Amato refused to provide a breath sample. He was issued tickets to appear in Rochester City Court on July 16.

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>Fleet-footed robber escapes after Citizens Bank holdup

NIAGARA FALLS -- A fleet-footed robber ran off Tuesday with an undetermined amount of cash from a branch of Citizens Bank, even though a city police officer arrived at the bank only about a minute after a report of a robbery in progress.

Officer Matt Illig was in a patrol car less than a block away when the robbery report was broadcast at 11 a.m.

He said he arrived at the bank branch at 8298 Niagara Falls Blvd. at 11:09 a.m., and found that the robber already had run off with stacks of $100, $50 and $20 bills.

A teller said the man held one hand inside his jacket as if concealing a weapon when he quietly demanded "all of the 50s and 100s." However, no weapon was seen.

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>Accused shoplifter runs into trouble

NIAGARA FALLS -- An employee of the Wilson Farms store at 2620 Niagara St. told police that he and another man wrestled a suspected shoplifter to the ground early Tuesday outside the store after he took a handful of sunglasses worth $75.

Everett Lee Downing Jr., 45, of 24th Street, was charged with second-degree robbery, third-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal mischief and third-degree criminal trespass.

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>Conditional discharge given in Medicaid fraud case

LOCKPORT -- An employee of a Town of Tonawanda collection agency, convicted of taking part in an illegal effort to get Medicaid to cover a $5,379 hospital bill for a Lewiston man, was granted a three-year conditional discharge Tuesday by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Defense attorney Leigh Anderson said she will pursue an appeal on behalf of Amy L. Gardner, 32, of East Park Road, Grand Island.

On Jan. 19, a jury convicted Gardner, her former employer, HIS Holdings, and her boss, Deborah A. Kantor, 57, of Lorna Lane, Town of Tonawanda, of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and attempted third-degree grand larceny.

The charges stemmed from a 2006 case in which the Lewiston man, who owed money to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, allegedly was told to use a false address on his Medicaid application. The Niagara County Department of Social Services denied the claim. The medical center was not accused of any wrongdoing.

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>$6,000 in items taken in apartment break-ins

LOCKPORT -- Residents of neighboring apartments at 6301 Robinson Road reported burglaries to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office on Monday night. The losses exceeded $6,000.

Donghui Jing said items stolen from his apartment included a rifle with a scope, a 12-gauge shotgun, 50 rounds of rifle ammunition and 100 shotgun shells. He also lost a digital camera, a video camera, a computer game unit, $250 in Canadian currency and $20 in U.S. funds.

A back door was pried open between 9 a.m. and 8:50 p.m. Monday, and the intruders removed, but did not steal, three pieces of meat from the freezer.

Khuong D. Doan reported that his apartment was entered during the same time and a laptop computer and a 22-inch flat screen TV were taken.

Doan said he locked both doors to the apartment, but found one open when he returned, although it was not damaged. The burglars forced a bedroom door open and left a bag of pills near the front door, deputies reported.

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>Patrols to be increased on South Transit Road

LOCKPORT -- State police announced Tuesday that they have begun stepped-up traffic patrols on South Transit Road after receiving results of a state Department of Transportation study that showed unusually high rates of accidents on that road, which is part of Route 78.

State police said the DOT reports blamed hazardous driving behavior and high traffic volume for the accidents. The patrols will continue through the summer.

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