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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Ex-convict pleads guilty to theft from grandparents

LOCKPORT -- A North Tonawanda man who has served federal prison time on drug charges pleaded guilty Wednesday in Niagara County Court to stealing $77,564 from his grandparents from November 2009 to September 2010 by means of forged checks and stolen credit cards.

Christopher S. Holland, 35, of Castlebar Drive, admitted to fourth-degree grand larceny and was scheduled for sentencing June 28 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Holland's record includes 33 months in federal prison for selling Fentanyl patches, prosecutors said.

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Guilty pleas entered in separate drug cases

LOCKPORT -- Two men pleaded guilty to drug felonies in separate Niagara County Court cases Wednesday.

Joseph A. Tagg, 22, of Dysinger Road, Lockport, admitted to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance for selling heroin to a police informant Aug. 13 in a parking lot on South Transit Street in Lockport. Judge Matthew J. Murphy III scheduled sentencing for June 22.

Paul Houpe, 18, of Rochester, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and is to be sentenced by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza on June 29.

Houpe was arrested in a police raid on an apartment on Washburn Street in Lockport on Sept. 9, when he had three-tenths of an ounce of crack cocaine.

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Probe suspects speed in fatal pickup crash

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Speed may have killed a city resident whose pickup crashed into a utility pole at about 3 p.m. Saturday in the 900 block of Payne Avenue.

Hal W. Stetson, 56, of Second Avenue, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at DeGraff Memorial Hospital. Stetson lost control of his pickup near East Avenue after he attempted to pass another vehicle on the right, Patrol Capt. Roger Zgolak said Wednesday.

"Two witnesses we talked to said [Stetson] was traveling at a very high rate of speed and as he passed the vehicle we are surmising he lost control and then hit the telephone pole," said Zgolak, who noted there was standing water at Payne and East and the pickup may have hydroplaned.

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Kayakers have close call on Cazenovia Creek

Two kayakers escaped unharmed after one of them overturned and the other became stranded Wednesday on Cazenovia Creek in the Town of Aurora.

East Aurora Police Officer Joe Ferrara pulled Bennet J. Collins, 20, of North Davis Road, East Aurora, to safety up a steep muddy bank near Willardshire Road after Collins was unable to scale it himself. He had called 911 for help on his cell phone.

The other kayaker, Constantine Goebler, 19, of Germany, had overturned, then lost his grip on a tree branch and was swept away by the fast-moving water. East Aurora police and fire crews, assisted by Spring Brook volunteers and Erie County sheriff's deputies, eventually found him walking on North Davis Road. Both men were taken home after a medical examination.

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Man pleads not guilty to using car as weapon

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Lockport man pleaded not guilty Tuesday in City Court to charges he intentionally struck another man with his car in the 1800 block of Pine Avenue at 12:40 p.m. April 1.

Jermainel D. Pryor, 21, of Pine Street, entered his plea to second-degree assault with a weapon. Bail was set at $1,000, and a return court date is scheduled Tuesday.

Pryor, who was arrested on a warrant, struck the victim, then backed up and hit him again, Detective Patrick Stack said. The victim, who suffered knee and ankle injuries, was treated in Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, then released, police said.

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$5,000 in jewelry, TVs stolen in Falls break-in

NIAGARA FALLS -- Several televisions and jewelry worth thousands of dollars were stolen in during a break-in Tuesday in the 200 block of Seneca Avenue.

Police said a screen to a bedroom window cut.

Police said the homeowner was out between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., when she discovered the break-in. Missing are three televisions, two game systems and games, a jewelry box with $5,000 worth of jewelry, laptop computer and a carton of cigarettes. The loss and damage were estimated at $9,950.

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Batavia man killed in head-on collision

BATAVIA -- A Batavia man was killed at about 7:15 a.m. Wednesday in a head-on collision in the Town of Batavia, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said.

Jonathan M. Colby, 37, was driving east on West Main Street Road when his vehicle crossed the center of the road and collided with a westbound car driven by Angelo Merica III, 27, of Pavilion. Deputies said Colby was pronounced dead at the scene.

Merica, who suffered serious injuries, was airlifted to Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester. His condition was listed as satisfactory.

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