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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Burning cardboard sparks fire at Wheatfield building

WHEATFIELD -- Niagara County fire companies fought a blaze about 6:30 p.m. Monday in a one-story cinder block building at 7505 Old Shawnee Road, Niagara County sheriff's officials said.

An investigation revealed that a man was burning cardboard in a 55-gallon drum outside the building and that the fire spread to a utility trailer, then the building, sheriff's officials said.

The building was heavily damaged, but no injuries were reported. Fire crews from Adams and Shawnee fire companies responded.

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Falls man pleads not guilty in DWI hit-and-run case

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man officially entered a not guilty plea in a hit-and-run case Monday, but his statements to the judge didn't sound like denials.

"This should never have happened, but it did," William G. Andrakulic Jr., 57, of Elderberry Drive, told Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas at his arraignment on felony charges of driving while intoxicated and driving while impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs, along with leaving the scene, failure to yield and unlicensed driving.

Andrakulic was arrested Jan. 30 after a collision on Pine Avenue in the Falls. It was his 11th DWI arrest, Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner said.

Defense attorney John J. Mattio said Andrakulic hadn't been arrested since 2007, but he left a methadone program shortly before the accident.

"The state gave it up and gave it to a private organization. They wanted $500 a month," said Andrakulic, who added that he tried to quit methadone "cold turkey."

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Cheektowaga man gets jail, 5 years' probation in DWI

LOCKPORT -- A Cheektowaga man was sentenced Monday to five years' probation, with the first six months to be spent in jail, in the wake of a guilty plea to felony driving while intoxicated.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas also imposed fines and surcharges totaling $3,020 on Denivre K. Aughtry, 39, of Autumnwood Drive. He was arrested April 3, 2011, in North Tonawanda, where police found him asleep at the wheel of his car. He was on probation for a 2009 DWI conviction at the time.

For at least six months after he gets out of jail, Aughtry will have to wear a so-called SCRAM bracelet, which will tip off probation officers to any alcohol consumption. Niagara County will charge him $7 a day for the bracelet.

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Razor-blade assault results in arrest of Falls woman, 23

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Packard Court woman was charged with felony assault for allegedly cutting another woman with a razor blade.

Sheila M. Webster, 23, was charged on a warrant Friday with second-degree assault.

Webster is accused of cutting another woman on the forearm following a fight outside a store at 19th Street and Ashland Avenue on March 23.

Police said the victim received a 3-inch laceration, but refused medical treatment at the scene. The victim told police that she had been having ongoing problems with Webster and would seek a warrant.

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Man accused of threatening store clerk with a knife

NIAGARA FALLS -- A man was charged with pulling a knife on a store clerk after an automated bottle return machine refused to take his bottle Sunday afternoon.

Christopher James, 44, of 20th Street, was charged with second-degree menacing just after 2 p.m. at a Wilson Farms store in the 2300 block of Hyde Park Boulevard.

The clerk said James came into the store with a few bags of bottles and cans and then signaled her to come over because the machine would not accept a certain bottle. The clerk said she told him he could take the bottle to the counter and they would accept it.

But she said James continued to raise his voice and then came towards the counter, pulled out a silver knife and said, "What did you say? I'll cut your face." She said she told a manager to call police.

James reportedly calmed down, deposited more bottles and then left the store. He was stopped by police in the store parking lot.

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Car stereos are stolen in 3 separate break-ins

NIAGARA FALLS -- Car stereos were stolen in three separate smash-and-grab larcenies from vehicles on Easter Sunday.

A 52-year-old man said a passenger side window of his Chrysler 300 sedan was smashed between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. while parked next to an alley in the 200 block of Pine Avenue. He said the car stereo, a digital camera and GPS were removed. Total loss and damage were $925.

A front passenger window was smashed and a stereo was stolen from a car parked in the 1800 block of Niagara Avenue between 5:30 and 11 a.m. Total loss and damage were $450.

Also between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. a front passenger window was smashed in a Nissan Maxima parked in the 500 block of 23rd Street and a car stereo was stolen. Total loss and damage were $290. The victim turned in a cell phone he found in the car which did not belong to him and he believes could belong to the robber.