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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Plea of guilty entered to theft from pension fund

A Youngstown man Monday pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to stealing $83,666 from an employee pension fund that he managed for a company owned by his wife.

Stephen Dillon, 49, former manager of Managed Care Network in Niagara Falls, was accused of embezzling funds from the employee benefit 401(k) pension plan sponsored by the business, which is owned by Jeanne Battaglia Dillon.

As the administrator of the plan, Stephen Dillon was responsible for deducting employee payroll contributions on a biweekly basis. However, Dillon failed to forward those contributions to the plan on behalf of the employees.

The charge against Dillon carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Dillon pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge William J. Skretny, who scheduled sentencing for Nov. 18.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito Jr., who is handling the case, said the plea is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Marjorie Franzman, special agent in charge of the New York Region.

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New trial denied for man in prison for home invasion

LOCKPORT -- A Buffalo man convicted of taking part in a 2001 home invasion in Niagara Falls was denied a new trial in a hearing last week before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Jack Z. Sweet, 51, formerly of Roehrer Avenue, is serving a 15-year prison sentence.

On Dec. 30, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ordered a hearing on whether Sweet's trial lawyer should have sought dismissal of the charges on the grounds that Sweet's right to a speedy trial was violated. Sweet said a felony complaint was lodged Dec. 5, 2001, but prosecutors didn't announce the case was ready for trial until 6 1/2 months later. Normally, that's supposed to happen within six months.

But Assistant District Attorney Thomas H. Brandt said he showed that police never sent the felony complaint to City Court.

Instead, they sent it right to the District Attorney's Office, which obtained an indictment without taking the case through the lower court, so prosecutors weren't on the clock right after the complaint was written.

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Five people arrested on narcotics charges

After a monthlong investigation into the sale and distribution of narcotics in Monroe and Orleans counties, five people were charged, and prescription narcotics and heroin with a street value of $2,000 was seized, along with $500 cash and packaging materials, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force announced Monday.

Shawna N. Weis, 24, of East Bank Street, Albion, was arraigned on nine counts of felony criminal sale and criminal possession of controlled substance and a misdemeanor possession charge. She was ordered held on $10,000 bail.

Derek E. Dingman, 24, also of East Bank Street, and Dylan J. Dent, 18, of Allen Road, Albion, were both charged with felony criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance, and were ordered held on $5,000 bail. Dingman also faces conspiracy charges, task force officials said.

Sandra D. Roper, 20, and Brandon M. Roper, 23, both of Clark Street, Brockport, were each charged with felony third-degree criminal sale and fourth-degree possession, and were ordered held on $2,500 bail.

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ATV rider suffers head injury in crash

ROYALTON -- A 20-year-old ATV rider suffered a head injury and was hospitalized following an accident in Royalton Ravine County Park on Sunday.

The victim was riding along the park's trails when he lost control of the ATV on a slope, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said. The man's identity was not released.

He was not wearing a helmet, according to deputies, and was transported out of the ravine by emergency personnel.

Mercy Flight transported the victim to Erie County Medical Center, where his condition was not known.

Charges may be pending, according to the Sheriff's Office.

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Man, 60 killed in fall at hydroelectric plant

Law enforcement officers say an Allegany man died Monday afternoon when he fell at a hydroelectric plant he co-owns on the Seneca River in suburban Syracuse.

John Stranburg, 60, fell while doing maintenance on a turbine at the Wave Hydro power plant in Baldwinsville and was sucked underwater by the powerful current, police said.

Hampered by strong current in the dark confines of the turbine pit, emergency workers labored for nearly four hours to recover Stranburg's body, which was removed shortly before 4 p.m.

Earlier Monday afternoon, rescuers pulled another man out of the river at the plant. He was taken away in an ambulance with what were believed to be non-life-threatening injuries.

The 10-foot-diameter turbine continued to spin during the recovery operation.