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Coin collection, other items stolen in Hamburg

Hamburg police are seeking information about the burglar who stole a sizable coin collection and other items from an Exeter Terrace home at about 12:30 p.m. Feb. 15.

The thief is described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall with a medium build.

Police also released a sketch of the burglar.

Anyone with information regarding the man or his whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Thomas Brown at 648-5118, Ext. 2619.


Man, 18, arraigned in fatal park shooting

A Cheektowaga man was arraigned Thursday on murder and weapons charges in connection with a fatal shooting in Cheektowaga Town Park last spring.

Dontre Jones, 18, of Alexander Avenue, is accused of killing Ira G. Watkins Jr. on May 31 in the park.

Jones pleaded not guilty before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns, who ordered him held without bail. Jones faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Watkins, a Riverside High School graduate and Erie Community College student, got caught in the crossfire when gunshots broke out in Town Park, where he had gone to play basketball. He was trying to mediate a dispute between members of two rival gangs when he was shot in the chest, Cheektowaga police said in announcing his arrest Wednesday.


High-speed chase ends with multiple charges

A Cheektowaga man is being held on felony criminal mischief, drunken driving and traffic violations after a brief high-speed chase with Niagara Frontier Transportation Police in the 4200 block of Genesee Street at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to police officials.

Justin M. Schasel, 27, of Davison Drive, registered a 0.23 percent blood-alcohol reading, almost three times the state's legal limit, after he was captured at an NFTA police roadblock on Luiz Kahl Way after driving the wrong way down that road at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, police said.

One NFTA officer was taken to ECMC for examination for possible neck injuries after Schasel collided head-on with his patrol car, police said.


10th Street Gang member gets 6 1/2 -year prison term

Renel Velazquez, a member of the notorious 10th Street Gang, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to serve 6 1/2 years in prison on his RICO conspiracy conviction in connection with the gang's activities.

Velazquez, 27, was involved in a violent assault and robbery Feb. 1, 2008, and sold marijuana in territory controlled by the gang on Buffalo's West Side, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. and trial prosecutor Joseph M. Tripi said Thursday.

Hochul said Velazquez also permitted other 10th Street Gang members to store cocaine, firearms and ammunition in his apartment.

Prosecutors said Velazquez and other gang members and associates carried out a robbery plan in 2008, breaking into their victim's Buffalo apartment and waiting for him.

While they waited, prosecutors said, Velazquez kept in cellphone contact with a woman who was with the victim. When the man arrived, Velazquez and the others beat, punched, choked and kicked him repeatedly.

Prosecutors said Velazquez also beat the victim over the head with a hammer. The victim, who required hospitalization, was stripped of his clothing and his leather jacket, cellphone and more than $600 in cash.


Man accused of running sex trafficking ring

A Rochester-area man faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine for allegedly running a sex trafficking ring of minor girls at upstate New York hotels, including in Buffalo.

Thomas Cramer, 40, is accused of enticing the girls under age 18 for the prostitution-related activities. In one of the cases, Cramer sent a text message to a girl telling her she could make "much more money performing commercial sex acts than she could working at a grocery store," Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Rogowski said.

The criminal complaint filed against Cramer also alleged that he placed advertisements on adult websites regarding the availability of the girls for commercial sex acts. Those acts took place at hotels in the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse areas as well as at Cramer's home in Brighton.

Customers, according to the complaint, were charged between $150 to $220 per hour to engage in sexual activities with the girls, and Cramer received a portion of the proceeds.


Police officer, man, 81, injured in collision

A Buffalo police officer and an 81-year-old driver were both taken to Erie County Medical Center Thursday for treatment of multiple injuries following a crash on Olympic Avenue.

Police said the elderly driver, an Orchard Park resident, was traveling east on the Kensington Expressway at about 11:30 a.m. when he exited at Olympic and struck a police car. The officer was treated in Erie County Medical Center and released, while the driver was admitted to ECMC in fair condition.