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2 charged in mishandling of remains

A Niagara County coroner and the chief of a volunteer fire department have been charged with mishandling the remains of a man who was killed earlier this month in a head-on collision in Cambria, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour reported Friday.

Russell Jackman, the District 4 coroner, and Vincent Salerno, chief of the Cambria Volunteer Fire Company, have been charged with obstructing governmental administration.

Voutour told The Buffalo News that Jackman, 45, is accused of giving human remains to Salerno, 50, for what he called "noncriminal use."

Voutour would not disclose the nature of the human remains involved in what he called "a stupid mistake on the parts of" both Jackman and Salerno.

The sheriff told The News on Friday evening that Salerno has a cadaver dog in his department and wanted to use the human remains for training purposes with the animal.

The obstruction charges against Jackman and Salerno arose during the continuing investigation of a fatal collision by the Sheriff's Office.

Richard Dunn, 32, of Lockport, was killed April 13 when he lost control of his pickup truck and collided with a car carrying four people.

Dunn's family "is very upset" about the actions of Jackman and Salerno, the sheriff said.

Though the sheriff said he is sure "there was no criminal intent" on the part of Jackman and Salerno, both have to deal with the criminal charge Tuesday in Cambria Town Court.

The sheriff said the obstruction charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail if convicted.

Christian W. Peck, Niagara County public information officer, said the County Legislature has been made aware of Jackman's arrest, and the investigation will be handled by the district attorney and the Sheriff's Office.

Niagara County has four coroners, each responsible for a specific district.