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Suits against airline stayed in wake of bankruptcy filing

A federal judge did the expected this week when he stayed the Continental Connection Flight 3407 lawsuits against Pinnacle Airlines.

U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny put a hold on the suits because of Pinnacle's recent bankruptcy filing.

The airline's bankruptcy case means the families of loved ones in the crash who have not yet settled their lawsuits will have to wait an undetermined amount of time.

The courts do not have to wait until Pinnacle's bankruptcy case is completed to lift the stay. Pinnacle is the parent of Colgan Air, the regional airline that owned and operated the plane that crashed in Clarence Center in February 2009 claiming 50 lives.


Parole violator sent to 'shock incarceration'

LOCKPORT -- A Newfane man was sentenced to the state prison system's boot camp-style "shock incarceration" program Thursday for violating probation in a drug case.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas imposed the sentence on Shane McKay, 23, of Phillips Road. He had pleaded guilty to selling oxycodone to a police informant in 2009.

McKay will serve 18 months in a regular cell if he flunks out of the six-month shock program.


Store owner's trial scheduled next week

LOCKPORT -- A trial has been scheduled for next Thursday in Lockport Housing Court over sanitary code violations allegedly committed by Peters Dry Cleaning owner Patrick McFall in not cleaning up debris at his former Willow Street store.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Matthew E. Brooks said Judge Thomas M. DiMillo set the trial date Thursday.

McFall has charged that the city interfered with his efforts to clean up a pile of debris left when a wing of the vacant store collapsed Dec. 15. DiMillo has ordered McFall to repair or demolish what remains; if he doesn't do so, the city may tear it down and send McFall the bill.

McFall said he received the results of the city-mandated asbestos survey: 4 percent asbestos in the window caulk, none in the pile of bricks. "This could have been settled a long time ago," McFall said. "The lack of cooperation from city officials has made this problem worse than it should have been."


Suspect in two theft cases expected to plead guilty

LOCKPORT -- Sheldon W. Crogan, who is accused of robbing a Niagara Falls bank while a burglary charge was pending against him, is expected to plead guilty in both cases next Friday.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. told Crogan on Thursday he will render concurrent sentences on the cases, over the objection of Assistant District Attorney Heather A. DeCastro.

Crogan's double plea could bring him a maximum of seven years in prison. Without the concurrent sentencing, his maximum term would have been 11 years.

Crogan, 36, of Main Street in the Falls, is charged with using a holdup note to rob an HSBC Bank branch on that street April 10. He was previously accused of stealing copper wire from a house on 24th Street on Oct. 5.


Not-guilty plea entered to DWI, other charges

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man was arraigned on drunken driving charges Thursday in Niagara County Court.

James E. Szczerbacki, 61, of Zito Drive, pleaded not guilty to felony DWI, first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, driving without insurance and switched plates.


Ceglia appealing ruling on records in Facebook case

Paul Ceglia is appealing a federal judge's decision limiting his access to potential evidence in the Facebook ownership case.

Ceglia, the Allegany County man who claims to own half of the social networking giant, is challenging U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio's recent decision in the 2-year-old lawsuit.

Foschio granted Ceglia permission to question Facebook's experts in the case but denied his request for access to computers owned by Harvard University and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Ceglia's lawyers claim their client deserves his day in court while Facebook contends his request for expanded discovery is nothing but a "fishing expedition." His appeal will be heard by a district court judge in Buffalo.


Man in gun case granted 4 more years' probation

LOCKPORT -- A man who may have surprised Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III by obeying the terms of interim probation for a full year was granted four more years on probation in a gun case Thursday.

Juan Ubiles, 27, of Pierce Avenue, Niagara Falls, had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon for firing shots at Gregory S. Vincent of Niagara Falls on Michigan Avenue in that city Aug. 30, 2010. Vincent, 33, went to prison last month for stabbing Ubiles on Sept. 3.

"I took a chance," said Murphy, who took a probation officer's advice to spare Ubiles a state prison sentence last year. "Mr. Ubiles has done everything he was ordered to do."