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Phil Fairbanks

Phil Fairbanks covers federal courts and criminal justice issues and occasionally veers off into the world of refugees, human traffickers and streets gangs.


Crime

Dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement officials raided houses on Townsend Street Tuesday, arresting nine people on drug charges. Federal prosecutors said the defendants are charged in a 34-count grand jury indictment with using residences at 67 and 76 Townsend to manufacture, store and distribute cocaine and marijuana. “These residences on Townsend Stree…

Crime

In May of last year, Richard Edvin connected with a local woman on Instagram, and their friendship quickly turned romantic. Even though they had never met, the Oregon man communicated with the woman on an almost daily basis, their intimate texts and phone calls solidifying her trust in him. Edvin claimed to be working on an oil rig off the coast of China, and when he…

Local News

For more than two decades, Donald R. Terwilliger worked as a coke oven lid man at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna. The job required him to work on top of the plant's massive coke oven batteries, not far from where the ovens released their emissions. Years later, Terwilliger would die of lung cancer. Earlier this month, New York's highest court granted Terwilliger's …

Crime

Timothy Staton, the Buffalo man at the center of a recent police brutality trial, is facing two years in federal prison. Staton, during an appearance this week before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, pleaded guilty to a weapons charge and admitted being a crack cocaine addict. He was arrested in August after the FBI and Buffalo police searched his Mortimer Stre…

Crime

Paul Ceglia, the Allegany County man who claims to own half of Facebook, is free again. Being held in Ecuador, where he was in hiding until his arrest, Ceglia was released Tuesday after Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno turned down an extradition request from the United States. Ceglia, his wife and son at his side, thanked Moreno during an impromptu news conference f…

Crime

By all accounts, Terrell Taylor was an innocent victim of gang violence. Mistaken for someone else, he was shot and killed near his home on Brinkman Avenue in late 2014. Matthew Johnson, the man who pulled the trigger, pleaded guilty Tuesday before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. and will face a recommended sentence of up to 25 years in prison. Prose…

Crime

The second trial of Buffalo Police Officer Corey Krug will be delayed a month. Scheduled to start Wednesday, the police brutality trial was postponed Monday because of the ill health of one of the defense team's lawyers. Jury selection in the new trial before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara will begin July 16. Krug, who initially faced four charges involving…

Buffalo

When federal prosecutors took their case against Corey Krug to a jury, the Buffalo police officer walked away acquitted of three of the four charges against him. But the jury deadlocked on the last count. Later this week, the government, intent on retrying the 18-year police veteran, will again try to prove that remaining allegation: that Krug used excessive force again…

A five-hour standoff between Niagara Falls police and an unidentified man ended safely early Sunday. The confrontation in the 500 block of 19th Street, near Ferry Avenue, began shortly before midnight with reports of shots being fired. The suspect, who police have not identified, kept police at bay until about 5 a.m. and is now in custody. No one is believed to ha…

A report to police of a man with a gun in South Buffalo led to the arrest Saturday of a West Side man. Buffalo police said Nukell Jones, 18, of 7th Street, was charged after officers found him with a 9mm semi-automatic Taurus handgun in his waistband. They said the gun was loaded with three rounds. Officers said Jones was arrested after they responded to a call at 7:…

A two-vehicle accident in Parkside on Saturday led to driving while intoxicated charges against a Buffalo man. Buffalo police said Eric Mugabo, of Fillmore Avenue, rear-ended another vehicle at Amherst Street and Crandall Road and then fled the scene. Mugabo, who was driving with a suspended license, was charged after his car was found at his home, police said.

The Lake Ontario shoreline may be in for another day of increased flooding. The National Weather Service issued a lakeshore flood watch, effective Monday night through Tuesday afternoon, for Niagara and Orleans counties. The Weather Service cited a "combination of very high lake levels and moderately strong west to northwest winds" in issuing the watch. The increa…

Courts

Pauline Hoffmann resigned her post as dean of St. Bonaventure University's communication school, but says she did it under pressure. She also claims the school denied her a promotion to provost, the university's highest academic position. Why? Hoffmann says it is because she is a woman and Wiccan. In a lawsuit filed in Buffalo federal court, the St. Bonaventure…

Courts

A former nurse at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is facing allegations that she stole and diluted narcotics, causing infections in several patients. Prosecutors say Kelsey A. Mulvey of Grand Island used her position at Roswell to steal pills and vials of medication, including Dilaudid, methadone and oxycodone, over a five-month period ending in June of last ye…

Courts

A New York State corrections officer was charged Tuesday with possessing child pornography. Joseph Chojnacki, 26, of Cheektowaga, was indicted by a federal grand jury after a search of his Louis Street home last month. Investigators said the search resulted in the seizure of computer equipment and the discovery of 8,500 images and 200 videos of suspected child pornog…