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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Falls man gets 6 1/2 years on crack cocaine charges

A Niagara Falls man who was one of 24 suspects arrested in a federal crackdown on gang-related distribution of crack cocaine in the Cataract City has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison and fined $5,000.

Percy Hilson, 23, was sentenced Monday in Buffalo by U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny, according to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.

Hochul said Hilson pleaded guilty to charges of distribution of crack cocaine and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute it.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, who handled the case, said Hilson was arrested April 28, 2008, as part of an investigation in Niagara Falls. During the investigation, Bruce said, 23 other defendants also were arrested. So far, 19 of the defendants have pleaded guilty to various charges. Hilson is the ninth among them to be sentenced.

The case against Hilson was based on a joint investigation by narcotics enforcement officers in the Niagara Falls Police Department, agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

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Opening statements set in police officer's trial

LOCKPORT -- Opening statements are on tap today in Niagara County Court for the trial of a Niagara Falls police officer accused of a domestic assault.

Mark L. Feldhousen, 59, is charged with second-degree assault, a felony that carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence. He allegedly rammed his 40-year-old girlfriend into some dressers in her Niagara Falls home Nov. 12, inflicting a concussion and a punctured eardrum.

A jury of eight men and four women was seated Monday in the courtroom of Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre said in court before jury selection began that there had been extensive but unsuccessful plea negotiations Thursday involving Murphy and defense attorney Jon L. Wilson.

The trial of the 38-year police veteran, suspended from the force in the wake of his Dec. 14 arrest, may last until Monday, Baehre said.

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Jewelry worth thousands stolen in Wheatfield

WHEATFIELD -- Several thousand dollars worth of jewelry was reported stolen from a home in the 2500 block of David Drive on Sunday.

The owner told Niagara County sheriff's deputies that a gold and emerald ring and a pink amethyst diamond ring were stolen from her dresser sometime during the past week.

An investigation is continuing.

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Felony hearing scheduled in attempted-murder case

LOCKPORT -- A date for a felony hearing was set Monday in City Court for a Genesee Street man charged with attempted murder.

Hans S. Diefenbach, 46, is charged in Thursday's attack on Norma Confer, 65, of Washburn Street. Confer was stabbed several times in her home and is in critical condition in Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo.

Capt. Richard Podgers, chief of detectives, said Monday that Confer was able to identify Diefenbach as her attacker, but since she has been hospitalized, police have not been able to question her further. The motive for the attack remains unclear, according to investigators.

Diefenbach, who police say told them he stabbed Confer, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

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Suspect in HIV sex case faces new charges

A Buffalo man charged last week with having sex with a woman and failing to tell her he was infected with HIV is now facing additional charges, according to Buffalo police.

Darryl Fortner, 20, of Sherman Street, was charged with a pair of new first-degree reckless endangerment counts after two other women who Fortner allegedly had sexual relations with approached police.

Fortner was first arrested Wednesday after Buffalo Police Sex Offense Squad detectives alleged he had sexual intercourse with a female victim while he was HIV positive and did not tell the victim that he was infected with HIV. He was charged with reckless endangerment in that case, as well.

He was ordered held in Erie County Holding Center in lieu of $15,000 bail for the first offense.

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Trucker gets one year on arms conviction

LOCKPORT -- One year in jail was the sentence Monday for a Fontana, Calif., truck driver who was arrested when police found arms and ammunition in his truck after stopping it for running a red light.

Jack S. Sandlin, 46, had pleaded guilty before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the wake of the Nov. 10 arrest at Niagara Falls Boulevard and Ward Road in Wheatfield. He's been in jail ever since, and that time counts toward his sentence.

Sandlin said he was hauling a load of waste toner for recycling from Little Rock, Ark., to Niagara Falls. In the truck, officers also found a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, 12 magazines of 30 rounds each for that weapon and a loaded .45-caliber Ruger pistol.

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