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2 arraigned on gang assault charges

Two men were arraigned Thursday in Niagara County Court in connection with an Oct. 13 beating that left a 67-year-old Niagara Falls man blind in his right eye.

The victim was kicked and punched at his 100th Street home, Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Scalzo said. Besides the eye injury, he suffered some broken vertebrae.

Pleading not guilty to first- and second-degree gang assault and two counts of second-degree assault were Michael G. Barber, 29, of Fourth Street, Niagara Falls, and Matthew P. Vaughn, 21, of Military Road, Town of Niagara.

Vaughn also was charged with attempted falsely reporting an incident for allegedly trying to get a co-defendant to change her statement to police.

Scalzo said that co-defendant, Chelsea Lowman, 19, of Creekside Parkway, Town of Niagara, testified to the grand jury in exchange for a misdemeanor plea offer. Court officials said that case is still pending in Niagara Falls City Court.

The victim apparently intervened against his granddaughter's ex-boyfriend, who allegedly went to the 100th Street home with Barber, Vaughn, Lowman and an uncharged fifth person. The ex-boyfriend also was not charged, and her new boyfriend, who was at the scene, was not assaulted, Scalzo said.

Defense attorney James J. Faso said he will file a motion to dismiss the indictment, asserting that he had made a plea deal for Vaughn to testify before the grand jury with information that might have exonerated Barber.

However, Faso said, the grand jury heard the case without Vaughn's input on a day when Faso was ill and hospitalized. Scalzo declined to comment on that allegation.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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