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POLICE & COURTS

Home Depot cashier accused of $12,000 in thefts

A cashier at the Home Depot store on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo is charged with multiple counts of grand larceny in connection with the theft of items worth nearly $12,000.

Northwest District police say Raul Rodriguez, 23, of Niagara Street, allowed merchandise to go through his line without charging for it.

Police report that on five dates between July 11 and Aug. 9, anywhere between $1,318 and $2,975 worth of merchandise was stolen in that manner.

It's not clear from the police reports if the same customer or customers were involved in each of the incidents.

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Ex-president of USW local admits stealing $31,700

The former president of Local 887, United Steelworkers, has pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds.

Guy Masocco, 62, of Buffalo, admitted using a union credit card for personal expenses and submitting improper reimbursement claims to the union over a five-year period, costing Local 897 about $31,700.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said Masocco represented about 100 workers at ITT Heat Transfer Inc. in Cheektowaga.

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Man admits, 63, defrauding Social Security of $35,778

A Buffalo man Tuesday pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than $35,000 by obtaining Social Security benefits under two different names.

Juan Ortiz-Santiago, 63, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge, theft of government money, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito Jr. said Ortiz-Santiago admitted stealing $35,778. He obtained disability benefits from the Social Security Administration in 1977 under the name Juan Ortiz. He then obtained Supplemental Security Income benefits in 2007 under the name Juan Santiago. He was not entitled to receive payments from either fund, the prosecutor said. He will be sentenced Jan. 5.

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Driver in crash charged with drug impairment

A Holland man was charged with felony driving while ability impaired by drugs after a two-car crash Monday evening in the Town of Sardinia, Erie County sheriff's officials report.

While investigating the crash on Curriers Road, Deputy Timothy Ulinger found that one of the drivers, Robert B. Hoffman, 42, of Holland, was intoxicated, according to police reports. Further evaluation by Deputy Daryl Demari, a drug-recognition expert, determined that Hoffman was impaired by drugs, sheriff's officials added.

The charge was upgraded to a felony because Hoffman had a previous DWAI conviction last month, according to the police report.

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Three charged in theft from vending machines

Three Buffalo men face a variety of charges following an early morning traffic stop Monday near Main Street and Callodine Avenue, Amherst police report.

Gianna L. Fuqua, 24; Daniel P. Jones, 24; and Gregorio Chevere Jr., 27, are accused of stealing money from vending machines at the University Motor Inn.

Officer Patrick Mayer stopped the three at about 1 a.m. for traffic infractions and smelled marijuana. Further investigation led to the discovery of marijuana and burglar's tools, police said. Police learned the vending machines were burglarized moments earlier.

Besides larceny and burglar's tools charges, Chevere was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, police said.

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$250 taken in burglaries at two restaurants

Plastic or glass jars containing at least $100 in cash were taken in two restaurant burglaries discovered late Monday, Northwest District police reported Tuesday.

The first burglary was discovered Monday evening at the Sweet_ness 7 Cafe, a coffee shop at Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue. Someone kicked in a board that was securing the door from a previous burglary and stole a glass charity jar containing about $100, according to police reports.

Later Monday night, someone smashed the glass door at the Great Wall restaurant at Elmwood and West Delavan avenues and took a plastic tip jar containing $150.

There's no indication from the reports that the two burglaries were committed by the same people.

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Facebook contact with teens leads to sex offense charges

A North Buffalo man faces sex offense charges after he allegedly provided alcohol to a group of Town of Tonawanda teenagers he met on Facebook and had sexual contact with one of them.

After being introduced on the Internet, police said, Anthony Jones, 21, of Hinman Avenue, met the three teens at Boulevard Mall and they went back to his home. Jones gave the teens bubblegum flavored vodka, police said, and had sexual contact with a girl, 14.

Jones was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and second-degree criminal sexual activity.

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