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POLICE & COURTS

Person reportedly jumps from Grand Island Bridge

A passing motorist reported seeing someone jump off of the North Grand Island bridge late Thursday afternoon, setting off an extensive search of the Niagara River, according to Grand Island fire officials.

A search began at 5:41 p.m. and was suspended just before 7:30 p.m. State Police were assisted by Grand Island firefighters, the U.S. Border Patrol, Erie County Sheriff's Department and U.S. Coast Guard.

Fire officials said a search was made "up to the 'point of no return' warning marker," but there was no sign of the victim.

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1 woman stabbed, 1 charged in neighbors' dispute

A woman was stabbed in the neck and another woman was charged with felony assault after a dispute between two next-door neighbors in Farnham turned violent Thursday afternoon, Brant police report.

Frances Stebbins, 31, was charged with first-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon and taken to the Erie County Holding Center pending court action.

Stebbins is accused of stabbing a 25-year-old woman in the neck with a steak knife at 3:10 p.m. at 424 Commercial St. The victim suffered a punctured artery and was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center. She is expected to survive, police said late Thursday.

Brant police and state police found Stebbins hiding in a locked bathroom and said they had to forcibly subdue her to make the arrest. One of the women apparently was dating the other woman's ex-boyfriend, police said.

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Man gets more than 4 years for role in Ecstasy ring

A Buffalo man will spend the next four years and three months in federal prison following his sentencing by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William M. Skretny on a charge of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. reported Thursday.

Darryl Robinson, 47, was one of more than 15 people identified during an investigation into peddling Ecstasy pills in Buffalo and the region that were imported from Canada. Eleven others already have pleaded guilty and were sentenced, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten said.

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Buffalo man sentenced in cocaine distribution case

A Buffalo man was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to five years and nine months in federal prison after his May conviction on a charge of distributing cocaine base, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. reported.

Robert Robinson, 35, distributed cocaine base to a confidential informant working at the direction of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Meetze.

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Fire heavily damages home being built on Grand Island

Fire caused an estimated $325,000 damage to a Grand Island home under construction -- for a firefighter, town fire officials reported Thursday.

Following a neighbor's report of heavy smoke coming from the eaves, firefighters responded to 303 Park Place shortly after 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. They found the two-story dwelling fully involved in flames, according to Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch.

The fire was declared out at 9:44 p.m. Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger reported that it started in the basement and quickly spread upward.

The cause remains under investigation. Authorities said the house is owned by Joel Kruppa, a Niagara Falls firefighter, who wasn't home.

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Eucharistic minister accused of fleecing woman

A South Buffalo man who befriended an ailing 86-year-old woman by bringing her Holy Communion while she was hospitalized has been charged with stealing from her bank account, police said.

Robert J. Hooper, a eucharistic minister, met the woman at a local hospital last spring and struck up a friendship that continued after she was released, police said.

Hooper, 57, of South Park Avenue, managed to obtain the woman's bank card and made two withdrawals totaling $2,500 from an ATM machine at Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, according to authorities.

South District Officer James Reese, assisted by district Detective Thomas McCarthy, charged Hooper with two counts of grand larceny and two counts of criminal possession of stolen property.

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Dutch man accused in bid to cross border with porn

FORT ERIE, Ont. -- A Dutch man was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly crossed the Peace Bridge into Canada with child pornography, Niagara Regional Police report.

Benjamin Slappendel, 23, of Dordrecht, Netherlands, was charged with importing child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Slappendel was sent to secondary inspection after arriving on the Canadian side of the bridge. That's when authorities found the alleged child pornography and arrested him. He was held pending a bail hearing.

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