Share this article

print logo

NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Woman to fully repay cheerleaders for theft

LEWISTON -- A Lewiston woman charged with embezzling from the Lewiston-Porter Community Cheerleaders in her role as treasurer last year is working to make full restitution of nearly $5,000 as part of a plea deal.

Amy Pitts, 37, appeared in Town Court on Wednesday night. She was charged Jan. 3 with third-degree grand larceny, a felony.

Her attorney, Karl F. Frankovich, told Justice Thomas J. Sheeran that Pitts would pay $4,751, full restitution, as part of an undisclosed plea deal. Frankovich said Pitts has a job, so she can make partial payments and also plans to use her income tax refund. A return court date was set for April 4 to revisit the status of her restitution.

In December, an end-of-the-year audit by the organization found that all but $2 was missing from the group's bank account. Pitts was charged after a State Police investigation found she was using the group's debit card to buy personal items.

Members of the cheerleaders' board said that they would like Pitts to pay back the money but don't want to see her go to jail.

***

Arrest made in robbery of couple at gunpoint

NIAGARA FALLS -- An 18th Street man was charged with armed robbery after he allegedly held a gun to the head of an 80-year-old man and the man's wife outside their home in the 400 block of 27th Street on Tuesday afternoon, city police reported.

Miguel Lopez, 19, was charged with second-degree robbery and fourth-degree larceny after being apprehended in the 2300 block of Niagara Street.

The victim said he and his wife had returned from shopping at 3:30 p.m. and were opening the door. He said the man came up behind him with what appeared to be a handgun and demanded his money. He told police that at first he thought it was a friend playing a joke on him, until he was grabbed and fell to the ground. The 80-year-old man said he struggled with the robber, pulling him down the stairs, then tripped him by grabbing his leg as he fled.

The woman said the man grabbed her purse before he fled. The purse contained keys, a bank card, a Social Security card and $15.

Lopez was brought back to the scene after he was apprehended and the female victim told police, "I'm 150 percent sure that's him."

***

Guilty plea entered to business burglaries

LOCKPORT -- A Town of Lockport man charged in Lockport business burglaries risks up to 21 years in prison if he washes out of the drug treatment program to which he was admitted Wednesday by State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr.

Matthew E. Bartz, 30, of Bartz Road, pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree burglary. A co-defendant, Stephanie L. Mottorn, 21, of Clinton Street, Lockport, also is expected to plead guilty and enter court-supervised drug treatment.

Kloch told Bartz that if he succeeds in the two-year program, his charge will be reduced to one felony or perhaps a misdemeanor. "If you complete the diversion program, I'm not going to send you to jail," Kloch said.

Bartz admitted to breaking into a hair salon on East Avenue on Nov. 26 and two businesses in the Bewley Building on Market Street on Nov. 23.

***

Orleans deputy resigns in domestic violence plea

BATAVIA -- An Orleans County sheriff's deputy voluntarily resigned his position as part of a domestic violence plea deal in Genesee County Court on Tuesday.

Jason M. Silleman, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal contempt of court before Judge Robert C. Noonan. Silleman faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each misdemeanor count when he is sentenced May 23.

Silleman was charged with threatening his estranged wife, Assistant District Attorney Susan Silleman, with a gun on April 11 at their home in the Town of Carlton. He had faced up to 42 counts, including battery, aggravated assault, menacing and first-degree criminal contempt of court, which is a felony. The case was moved to Genesee County to avoid a conflict of interest.

Under the plea deal, Silleman admitted that he had twice violated an order of protection and agreed to resign immediately as a deputy.

Silleman, an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, was suspended in 2009 for threatening a criminal suspect by text message. He was granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal in that case and returned to his job. He said he had been texting the suspect in an attempt to locate and charge him, authorities said.

***

Florida men arrested with fake credit cards

ALBION -- Two Florida men were arrested by Orleans County sheriff's deputies after they tried to use phony credit cards Tuesday at the Walmart Supercenter on Route 31 -- and then were caught with dozens of fake cards.

They were identified as Felix Darias, 49, and Yoel M. Pena, 35, both of Miami. Investigators said they found 47 fraudulent credit cards in their possession. They are jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Both were charged with first-degree possession of a forged instrument. Pena also was charged with third-degree possession of a forged instrument after he was found with a "bogus South Carolina driver's license," officials said.