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Attorney wants harassment charge dismissed against father of boy killed in fire

The Buffalo father who told investigators he accidentally started a blaze that killed his 7-year-old son last week must still keep away from his wife, a judge said Tuesday.

Joseph Conti appeared in domestic violence court Tuesday in Buffalo on a harassment charge he faced for a New Year's Eve incident at his Benzinger Street home.

Buffalo City Court Judge JaHarr Pridgen reinstated all facets of the original order of protection barring Joseph Conti from having any contact with his wife. The judge modified the order last week to allow Joseph Conti to attend his son's wake and funeral.

An order of protection in place against Joseph Conti was supposed to bar him from being at the family home where the fire occurred Jan. 29. Anthony David Conti, 7, was pulled from the burning house by firefighters and pronounced dead at Oishei Chidlren's Hospital.

Had Conti obeyed the order, he could not have sparked the fatal fire.

Lori Hoffman, his Legal Aid Bureau attorney, asked a judge to dismiss the harassment charge Conti faces for allegedly spitting on and arguing with his wife in their Benzinger Street home in the city's Lovejoy neighborhood on New Year's Eve.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office has not filed charges against Joseph Conti in regard to the alleged violation of the order of protection. A spokeswoman for the DA's office said Tuesday the case remains under investigation.

The prosecutor on the domestic violence case, Briana Miller, told Buffalo City Court Judge JaHarr Pridgen that a plea offer previously made to Conti was withdrawn.

In making her motion to dismiss, Hoffman argued that the charge levied against him was inappropriate because it alleged a "course of conduct," when what happened was only one "incident."

The prosecutor told the judge Conti's alleged actions occurred over a "significant amount of time" and met the standard required under the charge.

Anthony D. Conti, 7, died after a fire in his Lovejoy home on Jan. 29. (Photo courtesy of Conti family)

The case is scheduled to be heard again March 5.

There is a matter in Family Court to allow Conti to see his children, his attorney told the judge.

Fire investigators questioned Conti last week. Conti told friends and family he started the fire after lighting a cigarette with a blowtorch and putting the blowtorch down on a bed.

Anthony Conti's funeral was Saturday.

Investigators question father about Lovejoy fire that killed 7-year-old son

Father of boy who died in Lovejoy fire wasn't supposed to be in home

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