Share this article

print logo

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.


Crime

A Holding Center deputy asked for "professional courtesy" to avoid a shoplifting charge, according to a Hamburg police report. But Raymond J. Pollak, 57, of Orchard Park was still ticketed Sunday and ordered to appear in Hamburg Town Court on a petit larceny count. He has since been fired from the Erie County Sheriff's Office, an official said. A police report indica…

Featured

Niagara County deputies have lodged a homicide charge against a man who they say did too little to help his sister as she died from an overdose. Chief Deputy Michael Dunn said the unusual step has become necessary as the opioid epidemic takes lives in the nation's biggest cities and smallest towns. "People make their decisions," Dunn said, speaking for the Sheriff's …

Amherst

The federal fraud indictment that points an accusatory finger at two executives of Rochester's Morgan Management and two mortgage brokers also creates unwanted attention for two other players in Buffalo's real estate industry. While Brett Fitzpatrick and Aaron Siegel have not been charged or even named, last week's indictment alleges fraud occurred with one of their pro…

Crime

An Erie County Holding Center inmate has died after being found with a noose around his neck days ago, state officials confirmed Tuesday. Michael J. Girard, 33, who had been living in Cheektowaga, died in the Erie County Medical Center on Sunday. While aides to Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard did not respond to Buffalo News inquiries about the apparent suicide,…

Buffalo

Federal prosecutors allege two Morgan Management executives conned banks into lending millions more than they should have for certain apartment complexes, but the indictment makes no mention of the firm's founder, chief executive and guiding force, Robert C. Morgan. That does not mean Morgan, whose companies own tens of thousands of apartments throughout the eastern Uni…

Local News

The State Assembly passed a bill Tuesday to ban golden parachutes as lavish as one the Erie County Water Authority wrote into a contract this year. But the bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate, which wants to place its own limits on the severance that can go to managers leaving New York's public authorities. Unless the competing measures are reconciled into identic…

Buffalo

A fire in a Burlington Avenue home displaced three adults and two children Sunday and damaged the house next door. Buffalo firefighters who responded to the fire at 86 Burlington Ave. at about 1:30 p.m. said the first floor of the bungalow was engulfed in flames, but the occupants were safe. The Red Cross has been asked to assist the residents, a dispatcher said. The…

Crime

The body of a missing California man, Rudy Ray Rockett Sr., has been found in Cattaraugus County, his son said Sunday, hours after authorities called to tell him the news. Rudy Ray Rockett Jr., who lives in Ponca City, Okla., said his father's body was found near a park frequented by his stepbrother, Gregory Roy, 29. A source in Cattaraugus County indicated the site was…

Local News

A pedestrian was hit by an auto and killed on Transit Road in Elma late Saturday, and Erie County sheriff's deputies are asking for help in identifying the victim. He is a black man, in his 60s, balding, with gray hair and a gray beard. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, but carrying no identification, when he was struck between French and Clinton roads around 10 p.m. …

Erie County

A Republican commissioner on the Erie County Water Authority resigned Thursday, a little more than a year after being named to the panel that oversees the delivery of water to Buffalo's suburbs. Karl J. Simmeth Jr., who began his three-year term in May 2017, said in a letter to the county Legislature that he is resigning because of the policies of the New York State and…

Buffalo

A federal investigator who applied for a search warrant days ago alleged that two of Robert C. Morgan's relatives – son Todd and nephew Kevin – may have committed bank and wire fraud as the Morgan real estate empire expanded across 14 states. The accusation, contained in an affidavit by a special agent for the Federal Housing Finance Agency's Office of the Inspector Gen…

Buffalo

By raiding the headquarters of Morgan Communities, the FBI confirmed Monday that there's a cloud around developer Robert C. Morgan's companies. "It's a very debilitating thing," said Dennis C. Penman, who spent a career developing properties, mostly for M.J. Peterson and Ciminelli Real Estate, and knows Morgan casually. The existence of the FBI investigation shouldn'…

Local News

The Democratic takeover of the Erie County Water Authority has triggered a messy breakup with the public relations firm that toiled to protect the agency's image while in Republican hands. The firm, Zeppelin Communications, is owned by Michael R. Caputo, a Republican political strategist who says the Water Authority's new regime is withholding his firm's latest check fo…

Local News

The state's Catholic Conference has spent $1.8 million over six years lobbying Albany to, among other things, derail a bill to make it easier for sex abuse victims to sue. The Democratic-led state Assembly approved the Child Victims Act last week, but its prospects for passage in the Republican-led Senate are less likely. The act's most controversial provision would …