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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.


Courts

Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and some of his deputies are asking a judge to go easy in sentencing Kenneth P. Achtyl, the former deputy who broke the nose of the Buffalo Bills fan who swore at him and then lied about the arrest in official documents. They have written to Jorge S. de Rosas, the Orchard Park town justice who will announce his punishment against Ac…

Courts

Jeffrey J. Bernhardt says an Erie County deputy threw him to the pavement, clicked on a set of handcuffs and then punched him in the face because he refused to take roadside sobriety tests. "He slammed me to the ground and came down on top of me," Bernhardt wrote in a statement accompanying his brutality claim in federal court. "I asked, 'Why are you doing this?' …

Hamburg

Students and staff at Pinehurst Elementary School in Hamburg are grappling with the death of a fifth grader who was the second child in New York State to die from complications of the flu this season. "This just hits closer to home, being a wonderful fifth grader that was always smiling, was involved in so many activities, from a wonderful family that was very well invo…

Local News

Firefighters quickly doused a blaze that broke out in a Cheektowaga duplex on Sunday. The fire, at 160 Woodell Ave., a 2 1/2-story home near Straley Avenue and Villa Maria College, was reported around 4:30 p.m. and declared under control roughly half an hour later. Crews remained on the scene until later in the evening, however. No one was reported injured, said a…

Buffalo police on Sunday charged a Cheektowaga resident in an early morning shooting. Anthony Jones, 44, faces a felony charge of assault in connection with the shooting at 4:20 a.m. in the 3000 block of Main Street, a police spokesman said. Detectives said a 30-year-old Buffalo man was shot in the leg during a dispute with another man. A short time later, officers a…

Courts

What is it like to sit in jail knowing the judge wanted you freed days ago? And then weeks ago? And, finally, more than a month ago? "There were days when I wanted to give up," said Richard Burr III, a disabled veteran who was freed from the Erie County Holding Center 38 days late. Burr, 40, served time last year on domestic violence charges and for driving while int…

Local News

New York has a new limit on the severance pay that state authorities can pay out. It's designed to prohibit the type of golden parachute that a former director of the Erie County Water Authority arranged in 2018. After Democrats seized control of the Erie County Legislature, meaning they would soon control the Water Authority, Republican appointee Earl L. Jann Jr. signe…

Courts

Suspended Buffalo Police Officer Corey Krug will have to defend himself in a civil rights lawsuit now that the state's highest court has backed City Hall's refusal to indemnify the officer for his treatment of a Lackawanna man five years ago. City Hall lawyers will remain active in the case because the government and the police department are co-defendants. But the Cour…

Courts

The top staff members at the Erie County Sheriff's Office rarely comment on personnel matters. But Sheriff Timothy B. Howard spoke up when one of his jail deputies, Jeremiah Nolan Jr., was accused of stealing another lawman's ammunition pouch, charged with petit larceny and fired. "I cannot understand," Howard told reporters in June 2018, "how a sworn officer could t…

Crime

Douglas M. Milligan went into the Erie County Correctional Facility with two healthy feet. Eight days later, he had one good foot and one lopped in half. That's where Milligan begins his story about Sheriff Timothy B. Howard's medical team at the county-run lockup. In the 14 years Howard has run the Correctional Facility in Alden and the Holding Center in Buffalo,…

Local News

More than a few federal investigations have orbited around Buffalo City Hall in recent years. The FBI, collectively tight-lipped, has not explained its post-Election Day raid Wednesday on the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, which also drew in agents from the IRS and inspectors from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. But that's not the first probe lin…

Local News

The good fortune that swung to Erie County's Democrats on Tuesday could lubricate the party's machinery by protecting the patronage and filling the bank accounts as the party heads toward 2020. "It's not a bad thing tonight to be a Democrat in Erie County," said the Rev. Darius Pridgen, who will continue to lead an all-Democratic Buffalo Common Council. Mark C. Polon…

Crime

Aides to the Erie County sheriff said Thursday that jail deputies and road deputies will begin wearing body cameras once they are purchased and agreements governing their use are struck with the deputies' unions. The County Legislature's Public Safety Committee let Sheriff Timothy B. Howard sign a five-year, $1.6 million  contract with Axon to provide more than 200 came…

Erie County

This is the first part in a two-part series previewing the Erie County executive race. Read the first part — on challenger Lynne Dixon's record — here. When Mark Poloncarz took office as Erie County comptroller in 2006, aides to the county executive at the time didn't know what to make of him. They found him a bit stiff and hard to read if not mysterious. The new cou…

Erie County

Lynne Dixon called the Erie County executive "a bully" Thursday as the tension grew in a televised debate between the two candidates for county government's marquee post. "Mark Poloncarz, you are a bully," Dixon said as she lamented what she considers his negative campaign and a failure to listen to opposing views. "I don't know if it's because I am a strong woman," …