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Man gets prison in theft and blast wrecking house

LOCKPORT -- Eric S. Waterstram, a Niagara Falls man who confessed to stealing copper pipes carrying natural gas from the basement of a home on Military Road in the Town of Niagara last summer, was sentenced Thursday in Niagara County Court to 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison, to be served concurrently with an 8-year term for burglary.

The buildup of gas from the stolen pipes triggered an explosion the next day that obliterated the house and knocked a nearby business off its foundation.

Waterstram was sentenced by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas.


Failure to clean up debris gets man 7 months in jail

LOCKPORT -- The owner of the former Peters Dry Cleaning shop at 316 Willow St. was sentenced Thursday in Lockport City Court to seven months in the Niagara County Jail after he was found guilty of a housing code violation for failing to clean up the remnants from a collapse of the building last December.

The owner, Patrick McFall, told the court he could not afford the cleanup cost. He said drilling at the site by a company working for the state Department of Environmental Conservation may have caused the walls to buckle in the 30-by-40-foot cement block room that collapsed Dec. 15.


Woman's sentencing put off in death of 3-year-old son

LOCKPORT -- Sentencing of Kirsten M. Stofle, the North Tonawanda mother who pleaded guilty to a charge of endangering the welfare of a child in the death of her 3-year-old son, was postponed Thursday in Niagara County Court until next month. No date was set, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Her son, Dane, was struck by a 19-inch television set that he apparently pulled off a dresser in his darkened bedroom after his mother left for work on Jan. 25, 2011. The child's father, Zachary C. Stofle, who was asleep in a nearby bedroom, was sentenced earlier to five years' probation.

Both parents were promised that they would be sentenced to probation if they took parenting classes ordered by Family Court.


Man, 38, pleads guilty to sexual contact with girl

LOCKPORT -- An Independence Drive man pleaded guilty Wednesday to having sexual contact with a 3-year-old girl.

Robert J. Sawmiller, 38, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree sexual abuse in connection with the March 22 incident in the City of Lockport.

Sawmiller faces up to four years in state prison when he returns before State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. on Aug. 23.


Deportation expected after guilty pleas by 2

LOCKPORT -- Two foreign nationals are expected to be deported after pleading guilty in separate cases Wednesday before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas, who set sentencings for Sept. 10.

Abel Rincon-Beltran, 53, a Mexican farm laborer, admitted to two misdemeanor counts of second-degree sexual abuse. He had sexual contact with a 9-year-old girl in the summer of 2003 and an 8-year-old girl in the spring of 2004.

Rincon-Beltran has been spending most of the year working in vineyards in the Olcott area for the past dozen years, Assistant Public Defender Matthew P. Pynn said.

Ian A. Bell, 43, of 15th Street, Buffalo, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Assistant District Attorney Peter M. Wydysh said Bell, a Jamaican, was arrested March 4, 2011, at his then-home on Pound Street in Lockport.

Bell accepted a 14-pound marijuana shipment from California in a FedEx box that drew the attention of a drug-sniffing dog at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. He also forfeited $1,170 in cash.


3 Falls, Ont., residents accused of drug trafficking

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. -- A city man was arrested Wednesday by the Niagara Regional Police Service and accused of heroin trafficking. Two others were charged with aiding him.

During a search Wednesday of a Barker Street residence, Jason Antoine, 42; his wife, Arlene, 43; and Stuart Kelly, 23, were arrested, police said. Officers reported finding about $900 worth of heroin and an undisclosed quantity of cash.

Jason Antoine was charged with trafficking heroin and possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking, as well as possession of proceeds of crime. He was being held Thursday pending a bail hearing.

Arlene Antoine and Kelly were both charged with possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime.


Bufalo man charged in rape of woman

A Buffalo man was charged with raping a woman in a Walden Avenue flat about midnight Wednesday.

Hymen Brown, 35, of Walden Avenue, was arrested by Buffalo Police Detectives Natalie Perez and Natasha Tibbs and Officer Keith Fitzner when questioned at Police Headquarters later Wednesday morning. He was charged with third-degree rape.