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Matthew Spina

Matthew Spina, a staff reporter at The Buffalo News since 2004, has worked in daily newspaper journalism for more than 30 years. He's a graduate of SUNY Buffalo State and grew up in Schenectady, N.Y.


Watchdog

A man named Allen Wright was surprised to receive a letter form the IRS demanding taxes on his income from the Community Action Organization. Wright was certain he had never worked for the Buffalo anti-poverty agency, especially in 2003, the year the IRS was targeting. He had been doing time in an Indiana prison. He showed the letter to a CAO staff member, who showed…

Buffalo

Early this year, directors of the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board awarded a contract worth tens of thousands of dollars to a local company. The deal, fed by taxpayer money, went to a fellow director of the Workforce Investment Board. "I did not vote on this," said Brian Manley, whose temporary staffing agency was the low bidder and is likely to rea…

Courts

A lawsuit stemming from the death of a Springville elementary school student, who was run over by a school bus in 2016, has been settled for $450,000, court papers indicate. Alyssa R. Hearn was 7 when she got off the bus at around 3:30 on a November afternoon and walked in front of it. The bus rolled over the child as the driver continued on her route. The driver, La…

Courts

When Sheriff Timothy B. Howard sat for a deposition in a wrongful death lawsuit and answered "I don't know" 68 times, he still helped Erie County defend itself in the matter going forward. Deposed in 2017, Howard said he did not know the answers to dozens of questions about how his department trains Holding Center deputies. But he still held to the assertion that his of…

Buffalo

The head of the Community Action Organization of Western New York posted the latest annual financial report on his agency's website to prove "our finances are in order." The financial report told half the story. CEO L. Nathan Hare did not post the supplement. In it, accountants hired by the CAO say the anti-poverty agency wrongly held up employee contributions to the…

Local News

Masten Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. has given his fullest explanation yet about the May incident that led to his 18-month ban from Buffalo school district property, a ban that means he may not attend his son's graduation ceremony this year and his daughter's in 2020. "I wish I hadn't done it. I wish I could take it back. But hindsight is 20-20," Wingo said during…

Crime

Buffalo police say they have recovered the weapon used to rob a Family Dollar store late Friday, a black and silver BB handgun. The robber displayed the gun at around 9 p.m. at 3364 Bailey Ave. "Give me the money," he told a clerk before sweeping more than $200 from the cash register, the employee told officers, according to a police report. The gunman, after failing…

Local News

A North Tonawanda man who sat on a federal grand jury has admitted leaking secret grand jury information. Casey Lipps, 26, pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge in connection with his service as a grand juror beginning in October 2016, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Friday. In a news release, prosecutors said Lipps told various people about the targets of grand …

Local News

The Erie County Legislature is heading toward a vote June 20 on the creation of an advisory board for the two county jails. After hearing from dozens of people at a public hearing Wednesday, and engaging in a second discussion during a  Public Safety Committee meeting on Thursday, lawmakers are considering slight changes to the legislation, an aide said. Further, the Le…

Local News

An Erie County Holding Center inmate was asphyxiated in 2012 by undertrained jail deputies, a state agency said. Another inmate died in 2016 because the health care she received while in the jail was so grossly inadequate it should shock the conscience, the agency found. Richard A. Metcalf Jr. and India Cummings were among 24 Erie County inmates who died since Timoth…

Watchdog

Children enrolled in Community Action Organization's after-school and summer programs are typically handed simple items for their meals: yogurt, cereal bars or granola bars. Then a staff member started ordering more substantial fare: whole chickens, bacon and vegetables, with onions and potatoes arriving in 50-pound bags. The change prompted an internal audit at the ant…

Buffalo

FBI agents inquiring about the Community Action Organization of Western New York are asking about its links with the Grassroots political group, according to three people whom agents have interviewed. While the heads of both the CAO and Grassroots say their entities are not connected, the three people interviewed by the FBI said agents are interested in any financial li…

Business

Former State Sen. George Maziarz, once a kingpin in Niagara County politics, has been making a range of allegations about former allies and about the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., where many of those former allies have landed. Now, the FBI has begun an inquiry into the OTB and some of the contracts it has issued to well-connected businessmen, two sources wit…

Buffalo

A special accounting firm hired by concerned board members at the Community Action Organization was seeking specific records on the agency's use of federal dollars for Head Start programs when it halted work on its forensic audit. While the CAO's chief executive has publicly asserted that the auditor was never hired, a contract and emails obtained by The Buffalo News sh…

Buffalo

Hamisu Ango says he was riding his dirt bike on a Buffalo street, with police permission, when an officer pushed him and pointed a gun in his face after he crashed. A blurry video doesn't show the push. But it shows the aftermath. The story unfolded on June 17, 2017. Ango and some friends, who like to ride dirt bikes, intended to show off their bikes to the crowd dur…