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'Puff of smoke' summons county's hazmat team

LOCKPORT -- A suspicious envelope that emitted a "puff of white smoke" at First Niagara Bank on South Transit Road drew the Niagara County hazmat team to the scene shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday.

The bank employee said she detected the smell of baby powder and continued to remove the contents of the envelope before notifying her supervisor, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said. The substance was declared nonhazardous, deputies said.


Veteran scammer gets prison in several thefts

LOCKPORT -- A veteran scammer received a sentence Friday for some Niagara County thefts that will run simultaneously with a prison term he received in State Supreme Court in Buffalo a year ago.

The 3 1/2 -to-seven-year sentence for Randall K. McGovern is the same as the one he received in 2010 for forgery and grand larceny in Erie County. Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza sentenced McGovern, 41, of 58th Street, for third-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

That plea in September covered an indictment that accused McGovern of buying a 46-inch television set with a bounced check for $2,157; ordering an $8,400 industrial range and taking it home after pretending to be an employee of a local construction company; and selling some stolen construction equipment to a Niagara Falls company for $10,000.

McGovern still faces a federal indictment accusing him of joining with an unnamed accomplice who fraudulently obtained and redeemed $42,000 worth of Home Depot gift cards in 2005 and 2006, and trying to pull a $36,800 gift card scam on a local Lowe's store.


Ignition interlock law applied in traffic stop

A Buffalo man pulled over in Cheektowaga on Wednesday night was charged under a recently enacted state law that requires anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated to have an ignition interlock device installed on his car, Cheektowaga police said.

Osvaldo Garcia, 38, was stopped at about 7:30 p.m. on Union Road. A check of his driver's license showed he was supposed to have an ignition interlock device on his car, which he did not. The device helps ensure the driver is sober when the vehicle is started.

Garcia was charged with the misdemeanor offenses and was released on cash bail for arraignment at a later date.


Guilty plea entered to child porn production

A North Tonawanda man pleaded guilty Friday to producing child pornography images featuring a three-year-old, the U.S. Attorney's Office reported.

Erik Kopczynski, 32, who was investigated by agents from the Buffalo FBI office, pleaded guilty to a felony count of production of child pornography.

The conviction carries a minimum sentence of 15 years, prosecutor Russell T. Ippolito Jr. said.

The FBI began investigating, and at times, followed Kopczynski last year after receiving a tip that he possessed child porn images on his computer, authorities said


Burglary suspect caught at the scene of break-in

NIAGARA FALLS -- A tip to police led to the arrest Friday of a man burglarizing a Grand Avenue home, Niagara Falls police said Friday.

William O'Harrow, 29, of Woodlawn Avenue was arrested at 10 a.m. after police found him hiding in the attic. Police said O'Harrow -- who was charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal mischief -- was stripping copper piping from the basement.


Lockport man facing prison in rape case

LOCKPORT -- James J. Drake Sr., 46, of Pine Street, Lockport, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in a rape case Friday by Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

Drake had pleaded guilty to third-degree rape for picking up a woman in a Lockport bar June 16 and having sex with her in her home while she was passed out.

The sentence also covered a probation violation on a felony driving while intoxicated conviction, which stemmed from drinking in the bar before the rape.


Plea in sexual assault tied to future testimony

LOCKPORT -- A man who took part in a Nov. 9 sexual assault against a woman in her Niagara Falls home pleaded guilty in Niagara County Court Thursday and agreed to testify against his co-defendant.

Lamarr Jackson Sr., 35, of Michigan Avenue, Niagara Falls, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree sexual abuse and was scheduled for sentencing March 31 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco said in court he had presented evidence to a grand jury against Shayquan Williams, 34, of 24th Street.

"I'm confident they are prepared to vote to indict," Zucco said, adding that the woman said that although Jackson was a participant, she thought that was "out of character" for him, while Williams allegedly was the main player in the assault.

Zucco said those present were intoxicated at the time.

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