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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Police probe death of man in Falls apartment complex

NIAGARA FALLS -- Niagara Falls police are investigating the "suspicious death" of an unidentified 41-year-old man in the Jefferson Apartments, 250 Rainbow Blvd.

Family members said that after they couldn't reach the man by phone for several days, they asked a maintenance man to open his door Tuesday morning, said Capt. William Thomson, chief of detectives.

"He was then found deceased," Thomson said.

Thomson said the death is currently being called suspicious because they don't know how the man died and there were no obvious signs of violent foul play. There were also no signs of forced entry, Thomson said. An autopsy has been ordered for today.

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Man in guarded condition after explosion at his home

ALBION -- A 92-year-old Town of Carlton man is in guarded condition in Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, after an explosion and fire at his home about 7 a.m. Tuesday, Orleans County sheriff's officials report.

Leroy D. Bannister, of Point Breeze Road, was in an adjacent room when the explosion occurred inside a camping trailer parked in a partially enclosed carport attached to the rear of the house, sheriff's officials said. Both the trailer and carport were destroyed, and the house sustained substantial damage from the fire.

Bannister's wife, Doris, 93, was not injured, authorities said.

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Blind man admits hitting girlfriend with a rock

LOCKPORT -- A blind man pleaded guilty in Niagara County Court Tuesday to assaulting his live-in girlfriend with a rock.

Stephen R. Conley, 42, formerly of Witmer Road, North Tonawanda, admitted to third-degree assault and was scheduled for sentencing Oct. 25 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Conley told the judge that he was declared legally blind after he tried to commit suicide March 7 by drinking denatured alcohol.

Assistant District Attorney Cheryl L. Nichols said that on May 6, while riding in a car driven by his girlfriend, Conley got into an argument with the woman. She pulled into a parking lot and the pair exited the vehicle, which was when Conley picked up a rock and struck her with it, chipping two front teeth.

Nichols said the plea deal includes repaying the woman $162 she had to pay to reclaim her car after it was towed while she was being treated in a hospital.

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Ransomville man charged with felony DWI

RANSOMVILLE -- A Ransomville man with a history of driving while intoxicated was found driving with a suspended license and a beer in his cup holder Sunday night, Niagara County sheriff's deputies report.

Jonathan F. Baker, 28, of Ridge Road, was stopped at 7:29 p.m. for having hanging objects obstructing his view and appeared to be intoxicated, deputies said.

Baker was found driving without a license, which he told deputies had been revoked because he had failed to pay a fine on a previous DWI conviction. He also had a can of beer in his front seat cup holder. Asked by deputies what it was doing there, he said, "I was drinking it."

He was charged with felony driving while intoxicated due to the previous conviction, as well as aggravated unlicensed operation, drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle and driver's view obstructed.

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Woman who set up burglary fails to appear in court

LOCKPORT -- A 19-year-old woman, whose effort to orchestrate a burglary at her stepfather's Royalton home ended in a hail of gunfire, may have fled the area.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza issued an arrest warrant for the Lockport woman Tuesday after she failed to appear for arraignment on a charge of violating her probation. The woman was granted youthful offender status last year.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Scalzo said the woman hasn't reported to her probation officer since June 6.

She jumped bail last year and fled to Texas, from which she was extradited to plead guilty to attempted second-degree burglary in connection with the Jan. 21, 2010, break-in try. Her stepfather had been tipped off and riddled the car of the woman's accomplice with 15 bullets.

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Physician sentenced to two years' probation

An Orleans County physician who took illegal advantage of a federal program to provide free vaccinations to poor children was sentenced to two years' probation Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's office reports.

Dr. Ghulam Mustafa, 48, who worked with Hassan Medical Group in Albion, also was ordered by District Judge Richard J. Arcara to pay $81,544 restitution, authorities said.

According to prosecutor Mary Ellen Kresse, Mustafa submitted numerous claims to health insurance companies for reimbursement for vaccines he administered to patients between 2005 and 2007.

But Mustafa had received the vaccines for free under the federally funded Vaccines For Children program, Kresse said.

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