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Newfane pot patch spotted from a helicopter

Fred P. Smallman's Newfane neighbors complained about a smell coming from his property last summer, so the Niagara County Sheriff's Office took to the skies to investigate.

According to court papers, a crew in a county helicopter saw a patch of marijuana growing in Smallman's backyard. On Sept. 4, officers seized 20.76 pounds of the drug.

Smallman, 49, of Lockport-Olcott Road, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree criminal possession of marijuana. State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. scheduled sentencing for May 23 and told Smallman he could face as long as 18 months in state prison.

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