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Suspect in brutal beating enters not-guilty plea

LOCKPORT -- A man allegedly caught on videotape administering a near-fatal beating to another man in a bar fight has been arraigned in Niagara County Court.

John J. Baldassara, 53, of Creek Road Extension, Lewiston, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second-degree assault and intimidating a witness in connection with the July 17 incident in Players, a bar at Fourth and Niagara streets in Niagara Falls.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said the victim, a Niagara Falls man in his 40s, was punched and struck his head on the concrete patio.

"He had very serious injuries, nearly died," said Hoffmann, who added that the victim is "doing extremely well" in rehabilitation.

Baldassara was accused of telling Players employees not to report the fight and of visiting one worker's home to reinforce that message.

Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza continued Baldassara free on $5,000 bail but ordered him to wear an ankle bracelet, allowing probation officers to monitor his movements. That came after Hoffmann reported that Baldassara has been arrested on misdemeanors twice this month.

Hoffmann said one case was another bar fight, resulting in an assault charge, and the other was a drunken-driving and crack possession case. In the latter, the prosecutor said, police found $7,000 in the car, "which he referred to as 'chump change.' "


Porter Road man held on charges in drug bust

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Porter Road man was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail following his arraignment Thursday in City Court on a dozen felony drug possession charges.

Douglas A. Wright, 40, was arrested Wednesday after police raided his home in the 8500 block of Porter Road and confiscated narcotics, hallucinogens, marijuana, a revolver and a shotgun, authorities said.

Wright pleaded not guilty in City Court to a variety of drug charges, including possession and intent to sell, and criminal possession of a weapon. He is in Niagara County Jail.


Woman dies of injuries from crash last Friday

ALBION -- A Niagara Falls woman died Thursday in Erie County Medical Center from injuries she suffered last Friday in crash on Route 31, Orleans County sheriff's officials said.

Sandra A. Marasco, 49, was injured shortly after noon, when her westbound 1998 Honda Civic crossed into the eastbound lane near Eagle Harbor Road and struck a 2001 Ford Windstar, deputies said.

The driver of the minivan, Stanley R. Bowers, 45, of Lyndonville, and his passenger, Kathryn A. Hannon, 39, of Barker, were treated for minor injuries.


Falls man pleads guilty in steel-toed boot attack

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man who broke a woman's nose by hitting her in the face with a steel-toed boot was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor Thursday in Niagara County Court.

William L. Putman III, 25, of Orleans Avenue, could receive a year in jail when he is sentenced April 8. Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza lowered his bail from $50,000 to $5,000 and ordered Putman to enroll in a batterers' counseling program if he makes bail.

The July 29 assault originally was indicted as a felony. Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre said the victim barricaded her front door with 2-by-4 boards and refused to let her son go to school in the wake of the attack. Assistant Public Defender A. Joseph Catalano said Putman installed the 2-by-4s in the wake of a previous burglary.


Elderly woman is victim of sweepstakes scam artist

LOCKPORT -- An 82-year-old woman told Niagara County sheriff's deputies Thursday that she gave out bank information after someone told her that she had won $1.5 million from the Publisher's Clearing House.

The woman said she received a phone call at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and provided her bank account number so the caller could deposit the money in her account. The bank's fraud unit called the victim Thursday morning to alert her that two small amounts of money had been withdrawn from her account by a known scam business.


Statutory rape suspect pleads to lesser charge

LOCKPORT -- With an underage girl unwilling to testify against him in a statutory rape case, a Level 3 sex offender was allowed to plead guilty to a sexual misconduct misdemeanor Thursday in Niagara County Court.

Judge Matthew J. Murphy III scheduled sentencing March 25 for Mark M. Miles, 27, of 19th Street, Niagara Falls. The sexual incident occurred in a Lewiston park in September 2009.

Miles already molested girls ages 5, 12 and 15 in 2002.


Felony DWI charge lodged in traffic stop

LEWISTON -- A Youngstown man was charged with felony driving while intoxicated after being stopped Wednesday,for speeding on Model City Road, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said. Carl R. Mang, 40, of Cain Road, had been convicted of DWI in 2005, deputies said.

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