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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Police say Falls man bypassed gas shut-off

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Cayuga Street man was charged with criminal tampering for allegedly bypassing his National Fuel line, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office reported Friday.

Patrick J. Conte, 50, first had his gas shut off on April 20, with an outstanding bill of $4,200. A meter reader advised National Fuel that a meter bypass had been attached to the line, deputies said. National Fuel said a lock was now in place for all gas service to the house.

Conte admitted the theft to deputies, telling them he knew it was wrong but was going through some hard times.

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Copper thieves continue to ravage Heritage Manor

NIAGARA FALLS -- Thousands of dollars in losses and damages were reported in a third copper theft at the former Heritage Manor building in the 6500 block of Buffalo Avenue on Thursday.

Police have reported tens of thousands of dollars in previous thefts from the vacant building.

An employee of the building's owner, Jai Devi Corp., told police that thieves had returned sometime between Monday and Thursday and tore out ceiling tiles from the kitchen and took copper from the dishwashing room, the boiler room and the cafeteria storage room. Copper pipe also was taken from between the first floor landing and the basement. An electric motor valued at $800 was also stolen, and an electrical box was damaged in an attempt to steal fuses.

In an unrelated case, copper was reported stolen from the basement in a home in the 400 block of 20th Street sometime between 1 and 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Imprisoned sex offender may get Level 3 status

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man who is serving five to 15 years for the sexual assault of a child was categorized as a Level 2 sex offender in Niagara County Court on Friday, but a hearing will be held to determine if that rating should be raised to a Level 3, the highest level of sex offender.

Richard J. Morello, 40, is expected to be released on Nov. 15 after serving time for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old from March to July 1999, as well as an incident in 1997.

Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza said Morello is categorized as a Level 2 offender.

Niagara Falls police and the Niagara County District Attorney's Office have asked for the level to be raised based on evidence recovered during their investigation, including pictures of females under 16, a diary with numerous references to social encounters with young girls and Morello's admitting having inappropriate sex with another female.

A hearing was set for Oct. 12.

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Man gets 5 years in prison in shooting, sale of crack

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man who pleaded guilty to shooting two men in the feet and selling crack cocaine to a police informant was sentenced to five years in prison in Niagara County Court on Friday.

Terrell D. Thomas, 20, of Pierce Avenue, received the maximum sentence as part of a plea deal. He admitted to third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and second-degree assault on June 30.

Police said Thomas fired a handgun April 11 outside a Pierce Avenue restaurant, and the bullet grazed the left foot of an 18-year-old before entering the right foot of a 19-year-old.

On May 5, 2010, Thomas sold more than a half an ounce of cocaine to a police informant in Niagara Falls.

Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza sentenced Thomas to one year in Niagara County Jail and five years in state prison. The two charges will be served concurrently. He also was sentenced to two years post-release supervision.

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Tinted windows lead to weapons, drug charges

A Hamlin Road man was charged with illegally having a loaded .44 Magum revolver in his car, and his passenger was charged with possession of more than 25 grams of marijuana when their car with illegally tinted windows was pulled over early Friday.

Justin A. White, 20, was charged with criminal possession of loaded revolver, and Peter Elmore 23, of Ashland Avenue, was charged with marijuana possession after the jar of pot was found under the front passenger seat at Elmwood Avenue and West Ferry Street shortly after midnight, Buffalo police reported.

Officers Christopher Mordino and James Hacker found the revolver loaded with six rounds in White's glove compartment. They also reported finding a black face mask and latex gloves.

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Buffalo man is charged after man stabbed in face

A man was arrested late Thursday on assault and weapons charges for allegedly stabbing another man in the face during an argument in a cab at Paderewski Drive and Sears Avenue.

Hadid B. Askia, 29, of Good Avenue, was charged with second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon during his arrest at an East Ferry Street address late Thursday. He is accused of stabbing Christopher Southerns, also 29, in the face after they argued in a cab, Buffalo police said. Askia allegedly pulled out a black steak knife and stabbed Southerns in his left cheek after they both got out of the cab. Southerns sought medical attention at Erie County Medical Center.