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POLICE & COURTS

>Police say DWI suspect also texted behind wheel

State police arrested a 36-year-old West Seneca woman late Friday night and accused her of driving off the road while texting, as well as driving while intoxicated.

Troopers were patrolling Walden Avenue in the Town of Alden shortly before midnight when they found an occupied vehicle that had gone off the road. While interviewing the driver, Kimberly S. McGinty of West Seneca, they learned that she had driven off the road while texting and appeared to be intoxicated, according to police.

McGinty was charged with driving while intoxicated and a chemical test determined that her blood-alcohol level was 0.16 percent, state police said.

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>Deputies say toking teen was all over the road

Erie County sheriff's deputies arrested a teen driver accused of smoking a marijuana cigarette after his vehicle was seen driving over a traffic circle on Grand Island early Saturday.

Deputy Simon Biegasiewicz stopped the vehicle on South State Parkway at about 1:15 a.m., after watching it drive over the circle on Grand Island Boulevard at Staley Road.

Frank DiPasquale, 18, of Como Park Boulevard, Depew, was seen smoking a suspected marijuana cigarette as the deputy approached his car, according to police reports.

DiPasquale was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs and marijuana possession, sheriff's officials reported.

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>$6.3 million settlement reached in Medicare case

Seven hospitals throughout the country have agreed to pay the U.S. government a total of $6.3 million to settle allegations involving false claims made to the Medicare program, according to federal prosecutors.

The settlements stem from an investigation into Medtronic Spine LLC, formerly known as Kyphon Inc., conducted by federal prosecutors and agents in Buffalo.

Investigators learned that some hospitals were overcharging Medicare for a procedure known as kyphoplasty, which is a treatment for some spinal fractures, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said.

The hospitals involved are in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida and Mississippi, Hochul said.

The Buffalo News reported in 2008 that the Medtronic Spine firm, located in Fridley, Minn., agreed to pay the federal government $75 million to settle a case relating to the same investigation. While paying the settlement, Medtronic Spine officials did not admit to defrauding the government.

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>Guilty plea entered in debt collection fraud

A Buffalo man faces up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said.

Timothy E. Arent, 38, and his partner, Neil G. Wieczkowski, engaged in fraudulent debt collection, purchasing debtor information from a Buffalo debt collection business -- Capital Management Services -- and then using the information to coerce victims into paying fictitious debt.

The former employees -- Thomas Rice and Andrew Jon Pytlewski -- pleaded guilty to stealing the information and are awaiting sentencing. Wieczkowski pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion last week and is scheduled for sentencing in April, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryEllen Kresse.

During the three-year period from October 2006 to October 2009, Arent and Wieczkowski received $6.8 million in checks written by more than 1,000 victims across the country.

Arent is scheduled to be sentenced on April 29 before Chief U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny.

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>Man guilty of drug charge lodged after '08 gunfire

A West Ferry Street man was convicted Friday of drug charges after Buffalo police found heroin on him in 2008 after an exchange of gunfire on the West Side.

Miguel A. Crespo Jr., 37, was found guilty as charged of felony drug possession by a jury after a four-day trial before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio. Crespo had been jailed since his arrest at West Ferry and Herkimer streets about 6:15 p.m. Dec. 13, 2008.

He will be sentenced Feb. 24 and faces a possible seven-year prison term.

Prosecutor Alyson C. Culliton noted that police found the heroin in Crespo's pants pockets after he and two other men, who were never prosecuted, were forced from a car following a brief exchange of gunfire in which no one was hit.

Police said they returned fire after a gunshot was fired at them from the car. Ballistics tests never determined who fired the gun.

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>Five routed as fire hits Pooley Place home

Two adults and three children were routed from their home in the city's Grant-Forest area about 9 p.m. Friday by a fire that left an estimated $20,000 damage.

Firefighters responding to 11 Pooley Place, found heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the home.

The cause remains under investigation.

The Red Cross was called to assist the five residents.