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Niagara Falls gunman earns probation

LOCKPORT – Lester D. Florence Jr., who threw a stolen handgun away as Niagara Falls police were chasing him last year, was placed on five years’ probation Thursday by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas, who marveled at Florence’s success during six months on interim probation.

Florence, 26, of Center Avenue in the Falls, had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and risked seven years in prison if Farkas was dissatisfied with his showing.

Florence said he had completed a program called “Think for a Change,” and said it had helped him make what he said was a permanent change in his attitude. The crime occurred June 16, 2013, when Niagara Falls police checked out a report of an armed man outside a bar on Highland Avenue. The gun had been reported stolen in Allegany County.