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POLICE & COURTS

Man presumed drowned in Chautauqua Lake search

MAYVILLE – A 48-year-old Chautauqua County man is missing and presumed drowned late Saturday after he fell off an inner tube or inflatable raft while being pulled by a boat on Chautauqua Lake, Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace told The Buffalo News.

Emergency crews and a Sheriff’s Office dive team called off the search that had covered a wide swath of Chautauqua Lake about 9:30 p.m. as darkness fell, and the search for the missing man is now a recovery operation, Gerace said.

The man, who has not been identified, entered the water before 7 p.m. Gerace said at least one other family member was operating a motorboat, towing the man on a line.

Aggravated DWI charge lodged in hit-and-run crash

EAST OTTO – An East Randolph man was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated following a hit-and-run crash late last week in this Cattaraugus County town, State Police reported Saturday.

Troopers said a vehicle driven by James R. Eberle Jr., 51, was pulled over shortly before 9:20 p.m. Thursday on East Otto Road following the crash, for which details were unavailable.

Eberle posted a 0.16 blood-alcohol level, which is double the legal limit for DWI, police said.

He is facing an appearance in Machias Town Court on the charge next month.

Swindle could send man to prison for up to 25 years

A Buffalo man who pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud and tax evasion could face up to 25 years in prison.

Salvatore Letizia, 40, defrauded four people out of more than $360,000 from 2005 to 2009, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank T. Pimentel.

Letizia enticed his victims to invest in fictional business ventures, then took the invested funds and credit lines and used them for his own benefit, the prosecutor said.

He also failed to file tax returns for the years of the swindle, Pimentel added.

Letizia is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara on Sept. 29.

The case was investigated by the FBI.

Flat tire deflates scheme to drive away in a Cadillac

NIAGARA FALLS – A flat tire Saturday deflated a suspected car thief’s scheme to make off with a black Cadillac.

A Niagara Falls police officer patrolling Main Street just before 9 a.m. noticed the stolen vehicle in a gas station lot, with the trunk open, and the alleged thief walking away from it.

Anthony K. Mallory, 21, of LaSalle Avenue, was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and first-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

The Cadillac, owned by a Youngstown man, was stolen days earlier from the 1700 block of Walnut Avenue, police said.

Deportation on the table for one of two defendants

Two Miami men pleaded guilty in Erie County Court on Friday to possessing forged credit cards at Buffalo’s HarborCenter. One of the men is a Cuban national who could face deportation because of the conviction.

William Castro Landa, 29, and Jossue Torres Medina, 23, each pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. The men were originally charged with identity theft after being caught trying to use the cards between May 1 and May 4 at the Main Street sports and hotel complex.

Landa is from Cuba but has a green card and is in the United States legally. However, his conviction could affect that status. Landa’s attorney, Robert Cutting, said that by pleading guilty, Landa hoped to reduce his chances of being deported.

Judge Timothy P. Franczyk said he is inclined to sentence Landa to one year in a county correction facility when he returns to court in August, and the deportation question would be answered after his release.

Medina, a U.S. citizen, has a prior felony conviction in Florida. If that crime also proves to be a felony in New York, Franczyk said, Medina would be looking at two to four years in prison. He also will be sentenced in August.

Mental exam is ordered in torching of police cars

NIAGARA FALLS – A Virginia woman will undergo a mental health evaluation after she set two State Park Police cars on fire Thursday at Niagara Falls State Park.

Yeshiemebet Tessema, 45, of Falls Church, Va., will be charged with arson and criminal mischief. Police said she used an accelerant to set the police vehicles on fire.

No one was inside the vehicles at the time. They were parked in front of the agency’s station on Goat Island and the suspect was taken into custody immediately. Goat Island was closed for a time after the incident.

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