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From the blotter / Niagara County police calls and court cases, Jan. 5 to 8

Jan. 5

A North Tonawanda man was charged with driving while impaired and drinking in a vehicle after sheriff's deputies reporting seeing his parked car start forward on Blacknose Spring Road on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation. Deputies said they found three cans of beer, one open, on the front seat of the car driven by James F. Benton, age unlisted, of Cramer Street.

Niagara Falls police said a man clocked driving 48 mph in a 30-mph zone as he went down Ferry Avenue at 9 p.m. was also found to be driving while intoxicated. Joseph D. Lefreniere, 25, of Creek Road, Lewiston, was charged with two counts of speeding and DWI. Police said his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

A thief made off with $20 after breaking a $1,500 window at about 4 a.m. at a Hyde Park Boulevard restaurant, Niagara Falls police said. Police said the drawer to the restaurant's cash register was missing but contained only $20.

A Lockport man was charged with disorderly conduct after Lockport police said he told a bartender he was carrying a knife. William M.G. Thornton, 26, of Lock Street, also faces a charge of obstructing governmental administration. Police were called to the Main Street bar at about 2 a.m. and said they found Thornton intoxicated and holding a black-handled knife, and had blood on his fingers and lip. He refused to answer questions and then became abusive and began using obscenities, police reported.

A City of Tonawanda man pleaded not guilty in Niagara County Court to an allegation that he drove his van off Oliver Street in North Tonawanda on Sept. 12, causing four teenagers to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. James A. Staley, 26, of LaPierce Avenue, is charged with first-degree reckless endangerment. Assistant District Attorney Theresa L. Prezioso said she had no information on why Staley's van might have gone over the curb. He was not charged with speeding or any alcohol-related count.


Jan. 6

Ronald C. Woods, 29, of Wheatfield Street, North Tonawanda, was arraigned in County Court on a four-count drug indictment accusing him of selling the painkiller Oxycodone in that city June 24 and 29. Woods pleaded not guilty to two counts each of third-degree sale and possession of a controlled substance.

A faulty garage door lock may have allowed a thief to slip in and steal a 26-gallon compressor valued at nearly $300 in Wheatfield, sheriff's deputies said. The theft from the River Road residence occurred sometime between Jan. 3 and today.


Jan. 7

A Lockport man was sentenced to a year in jail on a drug possession misdemeanor by County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza. But by law, the sentence doesn't lengthen the actual time Rodney L. Banks will spend in prison, because it merges with the eight-year term he's already serving on a separate drug felony. In the misdemeanor case, Banks, 33, of Gooding Street, had pleaded guilty to seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance for being caught with cocaine when police raided his home June 3, 2008.

Paula M. Houston, 24, of Second Avenue, North Tonawanda, pleaded guilty in County Court to a felony count of driving while intoxicated. Houston, who was pulled over in North Tonawanda on Sept. 19, is to be sentenced April 1 by Sperrazza.

A counterfeit $20 bill turned up in the cash register at the Wilson Farms store on Niagara Street, Niagara Falls police said.

Thieves wasted little time before they used credit cards stolen from a car on Linwood Avenue in the early morning hours, Niagara Falls police reported. Police said a wallet, GPS device and cell phone charger also were taken. By the time the theft was discovered, the thief already had rung up $700 in purchases, the victim told officers.

A Niagara Falls man was sent to the state prison system's secure drug treatment facility by Sperrazza. John C. Shaw, 39, of Buffalo Avenue, had pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property for possessing jewelry stolen from a home on Walnut Street in Lockport on Sept. 23, 2009. Sperrazza said if Shaw fails at the 90-day treatment program in Willard Correctional Facility, the seven-time felon will serve up to three years in a regular prison.


Jan. 8

Two men were charged with providing alcohol to minors after Niagara Falls police said the two gave wine and champagne to two underage females at an 87th Street home. Donald J. Hess Jr., 21, of 87th Street, and Stefan Grabowski Jr., 21, of 15th Street, were arrested shortly after 1 a.m. after police were called to the LaSalle-area home to investigate a loud party, according to a police report.

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