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Murder of drug informant could become death penalty case

In the weeks leading up to the start of summer last year, Joshua Jalovick was looking to score some coke.

What his drug dealers didn't know is that the Buffalo man was also working as an informant and wearing a wire.

Or did they know?

Just a few months into his work with police, Jalovick's body, riddled with gun shots and left for dead, turned up in a backyard on Freund Street.

The two men accused of pulling the trigger that July day are now charged in a new grand jury indictment.

And they are facing the death penalty.

Prosecutors say Gregory Hay and Alphonso Payne, both of Buffalo, learned of Jalovick's cooperation and plotted to kill him.

They also claim there are three eyewitnesses to the murder, each one of them now charged in the case.

“The victim was a drug dealer and a snitch for the feds who was trying to benefit himself," defense lawyer Cheryl Meyers Buth said Thursday. "My client wasn’t the only person he was informing on. The government knew what the risks were for him on the street.”

Federal prosecutors would not comment on the specifics of the case, but the 20-count indictment details the allegations against Hay, Payne and three others.

The indictment also makes the prosecution a death penalty-eligible case, the first since the Kingsmen motorcycle gang prosecution four years ago, though the death penalty was not ultimately sought in that case.

"We will be entering a plea of not guilty and continuing our review and investigation of the government's claims," said defense lawyer Barry N. Covert.

Covert, who is representing Payne, and Buth, who is representing Hay, are considered "learned counsel," the term used to describe the lead attorneys in capital cases. Both are experienced criminal defense attorneys with a background handling death penalty prosecutions.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr., in a statement Thursday, would say only that the case is headed for a thorough review by government lawyers in Washington, D.C.

“The Department of Justice has a capital case review process which culminates in a decision by the Attorney General regarding whether to seek, or not to seek, the death penalty against an individual defendant,” Kennedy said. “That process is underway in this case.”

At the heart of the indictment against Hay and Payne is the allegation that they learned of Jalovick's role as an informant – he was working with the Buffalo Police Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – and murdered him in retaliation.

They also stand accused of numerous drug charges.

In a prior complaint against Hay and Payne, an ATF agent said the case began with an investigation into Hay and eventually led to Payne, as well.

The agent said both men were spotted selling cocaine to Jalovick during two controlled drug buys in April of last year, with one of those buys caught on a wire.

The indictment also charges three others – Daeshawn Stevenson, Raejah Blackwell and Roland Eady – and accuses them of interfering with the government's investigation.

All three were in the backyard when Jalovick was killed and later lied about it during grand jury appearances, according to the government, which included the following example in its filing:

"When did AJ show up?" a prosecutor, referring to Payne, asked Stevenson, according to court papers.

"I didn't see no AJ,"  he answered.

"You never saw AJ back there?" the prosecutor asked again.

"No, sir," he said.

"All right, do you recall telling someone that there were two shooters?" he was later asked.

"No sir, I don't recall telling nobody that," he said.

Buth questioned the credibility of the government's case and suggested the three "eyewitnesses" are people "they don't even believe."

She also challenged the notion that this should be a death penalty case.

"How many times do you read a story in The Buffalo News about rival gang members or drug dealers killing each other?" she said. "The feds don’t seek the death penalty in all those cases. But because this guy was working with them, his life is somehow more valuable?”

Hay and Payne are scheduled to be arraigned Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer.

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As state courts reopen, new Child Victims Act cases filed

gow

A former student at the Gow School alleges he was sexually abused and assaulted by an assistant headmaster there in the 1990s.

Tarek L. Adam’s claim against the private school in the Town of Wales was among six new Child Victims Act lawsuits filed this week in Erie County, as state courts began accepting non-emergency cases for the first time in more than two months and as the State Legislature passed a bill that will extend the Child Victims Act deadline by another year.

Two other CVA lawsuits filed this week against the Buffalo Public Schools alleged that a former School #29 principal sexually abused a 13-year-old girl in the 1970s and a former Lafayette High School principal abused a 17-year-old male student in 1989.

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the state court system issued an order in March barring lawyers from filing nonessential lawsuits until further notice. That was not lifted until late last week.

A one-year window to file lawsuits in child sex abuse civil from years ago had been set to expire Aug. 14, and sponsors of a bill extending the Child Victims Act to Aug. 14, 2021, cited the pandemic and its impact on the courts as reasons. On Wednesday, the bill passed the Senate unanimously and by a 135 to 9 vote in the Assembly.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s anticipated signature will make moot his executive order that would have extended the window until January.

Gow School sued

Adam alleged in his lawsuit that Michael Holland, a faculty member and assistant headmaster, started touching him inappropriately in 1992 and 1993, when Adam was a 14-year-old freshman living in a Gow dormitory supervised by Holland. The touching escalated to criminal sexual abuse and assault, including sodomy, according to court papers.

In a statement to The Buffalo News, attorneys Cheryl Meyers Buth and Brian Melber said that their client was exposing what happened to him at the school to protect other children who had no way to fight back against adult sexual predators.

“We’re not talking about just one employee or an isolated incident or ancient history. Our client and other pre-teen/teenage boys were subjected to repeated sexual assaults in the early to mid-90s when there was public awareness about these types of crimes,” they said.

It is the third CVA lawsuit against the Gow School, a college-prep boarding and day school for students with dyslexia and similar language-based learning disabilities. It was an all-boys school until going co-educational in 2013.

In March, the school released a report by attorney Julia Hilliker that detailed allegations against four faculty members and a nurse alleged to have occurred more than 20 years ago. The allegations included "student bullying; inappropriate, but nonsexual, verbal exchanges with teachers; and inappropriate or forced sexual interactions," according to the report.

Holland was one of the accused faculty members mentioned in the report.

But Hilliker said in an interview with The News that the Gow School had received no complaints about Holland during his time at the school from 1985 to 1998. The school first learned about the claims alleged in Adam’s lawsuit in its own investigation last year, Hilliker said.

The two previous lawsuits against Gow accused teachers Thomas Simmeth and Jack Jackson of child sex abuse.

In 2003, Simmeth was fired from another private school for dyslexic boys, Linden Hill School in Northfield, Mass., according to an Associated Press article. Simmeth was charged with indecent assault and battery on a student at the school, the AP reported. He was acquitted in 2004 following a jury trial, according to court records.

Holland was headmaster at Linden Hill School at the same time as Simmeth taught there, according to the AP report, and state child welfare officials investigated Holland following an allegation that he sexually assaulted a student on a school trip to New York City.

Holland denied the allegations to state investigators, the AP wrote, and was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Suits against Buffalo schools

Two other CVA cases filed this week were against the Buffalo Public Schools.

In one, an Erie County woman accused Frederick Speidel, an instructor and assistant principal, of sexual abuse when she was 13 or 14 and in eighth grade at School #29. The abuse happened around 1970 or 1971, according to court papers filed by attorney Daniel Chiacchia. The school closed in 1980, court papers said.

In the second filing, a Florida man alleged that former Lafayette Principal Frederick Ganter repeatedly sexually abused and harassed him over several months in 1989 and 1990, when he was a 17-year-old student at the high school.

Ganter also was accused of abuse in a CVA lawsuit filed in March.

Ganter, 79, who now resides in Wilton Manors, Fla., was a principal at Lafayette from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s.

He told The News in March he did "not really" recognize the name of the former student who filed the first lawsuit accusing him. He declined to make any other comment.

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Letter to judge details conditions inside prison Chris Collins is scheduled to serve sentence

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Posted: Updated:

NEW YORK (WIVB) – It has now been seven months since former Congressman Chris Collins was sentenced to serve 26 months in a federal prison in Pensacola, Fla. as a result of his guilty plea on inside trading charges. Yet because of COVID-19, he still hasn’t had to report there. The date has been pushed back several times, most frequently because of concerns regarding the coronavirus.

Collins’ currently is scheduled to report by October 13th.

As of Tuesday, three staff members at FPC Pensacola have active cases of coronavirus, according to Bureau of Prisons statistics. No inmates have active cases in the facility.

Late last week, prosecutors and Collins’ defense team sent a joint letter to a federal judge detailing coronavirus precautions at the facility. Pre-pandemic, they wrote, there were more than 600 inmates in the prison’s general population. As of last week, there were only about 310 inmates there.

“Courts are being very good about keeping the prison population low to prevent the transmission of disease,” said Cheryl Meyers Buth, a local attorney who has been providing News 4 analysis on the Collins case. “Also, they don’t want to put any individual prisoner at risk.”

When an inmate reports to FPC Pensacola, the attorneys told the judge, they are immediately tested for the coronavirus. Even if they test negative, they are placed in a quarantine unit for 14 days. Prisoners in the quarantine unit do not have access to email or phones for social calls. If, at the end of the 14-day period, the inmate is asymptomatic and tests negative again for the virus, they are released into the general population.

“Heightened cleaning standards are in place, and inmates in the general population are issued multiple face masks and encouraged to wear them in common areas,” the attorneys wrote. “There is currently no lockdown in place, and inmates have access to the library, recreation, and programming.”

Meyers Buth said it is was not uncommon for surrender dates to be pushed back for federal inmates even before the coronavirus pandemic.

“Certainly since COVID, all bets are off,” she said. “Things have been delayed. There’s been a lot more confusion. It’s just the product of the times right now.

“(Collins) is not getting preferential treatment at all.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately asserted that Meyers Buth claimed it was uncommon for surrender dates to be pushed back before the pandemic.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.

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Niagara University student says she was sexually assaulted by member of school’s swim team

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Posted:  Updated: 

LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) – A sophomore student at Niagara University was sexually assaulted by a member of the men’s swim team in a Fall 2018 incident, a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit, which was initially filed in federal court earlier this year, was amended Thursday to include the new allegation. The female student is not identified. Neither is the swim team member. The lawsuit does note, however, that the man is still a member of the swim team.

The woman joins three others as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in September. The other three women are all either current or former members of Niagara’s women’s swim or dive teams. They claim that they were “subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment and bullying by members of the men’s swim team”.

“Had the university taken appropriate action when complaints about sexual harassment and other abuse was first made in 2015, (20)16, (20)17, she may not have had the same issues that she did with this young man,” said Cheryl Meyers Buth, an attorney who represents the alleged sexual assault victim.

The lawsuit claims that following the assault, the victim received a threatening phone message from a man she believed to be the person who assaulted her. She then met with Niagara’s Title IX Coordinator Ryan Thompson, who “influenced her not to” file a formal complaint, she said.

The complaint also says Dean of Students Jason Jakubowski “failed to acknowledge that she was the victim of a sexual assault”.

Thomas Burns, Associate Vice President for Public, External, and Government Relations at Niagara, said the school is not able to comment on specific student conduct issues.

However, in part of a statement, he said: “More generally, under New York law, the university must seek consent from any reporting individual to move forward with an investigation, and in most instances are restricted from doing so without the reporting individual’s permission.

“The university has zero tolerance for the type of misconduct alleged and does not discourage any student from reporting or pursuing an internal or external complaint and investigation.”

Just weeks after the lawsuit was first filed, swim team head coach Ben Nigro left the program. Niagara officials wouldn’t say whether he resigned or was fired.

The university is not able to comment on specific student conduct issues because federal law restricts our ability to do so.

More generally, under New York law, the university must seek consent from any reporting individual to move forward with an investigation, and in most instances are restricted from doing so without the reporting individual’s permission. In all instances, the university provides reporting individuals with information regarding supports, resources, interim measures, and reporting options, including the option of speaking with law enforcement, with assistance and support from the university and external partners and community agencies.

The university has zero tolerance for the type of misconduct alleged and does not discourage any student from reporting or from pursuing an internal or external complaint and investigation. In fact, every member of our campus community is encouraged to report any violation of university policies and applicable law, including Title IX, local, state or federal laws.

Niagara has a comprehensive program designed to receive and address any complaints or concerns brought forward, with myriad student support services available to ensure that students’ academic, residential, and extracurricular experiences continue without disruption, to provide equal access to educational opportunities and programs, and to protect and support the students involved.

Regarding the amended complaint, we do not comment on pending litigation, but note that allegations in legal pleadings are allegations, not necessarily facts. We will address the allegations in our legal filings.

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY STATEMENT

https://www.wivb.com/news/local-news/niagara-university-student-says-she-was-sexually-assaulted-by-member-of-schools-swim-team/

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Chris Collins sentenced to 26 months in prison

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NEW YORK CITY (WIVB) — Chris Collins was on Friday sentenced to 26 months for his conviction on conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI.

The former congressman for New York’s 27th District was also handed down one year of supervised release and a $200,000 fine.

Collins last year pleaded guilty to insider trading, as did his son Cameron Collins and his son’s father-in-law, Stephen Zarsky, who were both tipped off. That allowed them to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, as alleged by prosecutors in the indictment Collins pleaded guilty to.

Federal prosecutors recommended that Collins serve between 46 and 57 months in prison. Collins’ attorneys sought probation. Probation officers recommended he spend a year and a day in prison.

“It’s a big swing,” said Cheryl Meyers Buth, a legal analyst and attorney at Meyers Buth Law Group. “I find in my practice it’s the most stressful time for a defense client because you won’t know until you’re standing in front of a judge what he’s going to do.

“You won’t know – are you going to federal prison are you going to a halfway house? Are you going to be on probation and what the conditions of probation are going to be?”

Judge Vernon Broderick received some 200 letters from members of the public – supporters, longtime critics, family members and former constituents in NY-27.

Collins represented the district in Washington until the day he resigned. NY-27 reaches from the outskirts of Buffalo to outside of Rochester, and contains some or all of eight Western New York counties. The district has remained without a U.S. House representative since.

First elected to Congress in 2012, Collins had little difficulty being re-elected in 2014 and 2016 as his district was long considered one of the most solidly Republican in New York, but the beginning of the end of his political career came on the White House lawn two and a half years ago.


June 22, 2017

Rep. Chris Collins attends the congressional picnic at the White House. The indictment against him states he made phone calls to his son about the stock in question while at the picnic.

Collins can be seen talking on his phone in this video.

Oct. 12, 2017

The House Ethics Committee says they have “substantial reason to believe” Chris Collins “shared material nonpublic information.” A spokesperson for Collins said the accusations against him are false, and called the move a political witch hunt.

Aug. 8, 2018

Rep. Chris Collins was charged with insider trading: In a criminal complaint, federal prosecutors accused Collins, who served on the board of an Australian biotech company, of telling his son Cameron about negative results of some of the company’s clinical trials before they were released to the public. After the results went public, the company’s stock dropped 90 percent in one day.

Collins, Cameron Collins, and Zarsky were each charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to the FBI.

Aug. 11, 2018

Collins announces he will suspend his re-election campaign, but maintains that he is innocent.

Sept. 9, 2018

A month after his indictment, Collins speaks exclusively with News 4’s Dave Greber.

Sept. 19, 2018

Collins reverses course and says he will actively run for re-election in November.

Nov. 1, 2019

A representative for Collins announces that the Congressman will not debate his opponent, Democrat Nate McMurray.

Nov. 6, 2018

Collins narrowly defeats McMurray in race for 27th Congressional District.

Aug. 6, 2019

In a new indictment, some of the security fraud charges against Collins and Cameron Collins are dropped.

Sept. 10, 2019

Pretrial motions in Collins’case came back against the congressman. A federal judge ruled that the information used to charge Collins isn’t protected under federal law because the searches didn’t involve official accounts or congressional offices.

Sept. 12, 2019

For the first time since his indictment, Collins misses a vote in Washington to be in court. Outside of court, Collins maintains innocence, says he is undecided about running for re-election but is confident if he did run he would “win in a landslide”.

Sept. 30, 2019

Chris Collins hands in his letter of resignation in NY-27. The letter was sent to Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The announcement came in advance of a change of plea hearing for both Collins’ and Zarsky, rescheduled for the following day.

Oct. 1, 2019

Hours prior his guilty plea, Collins’ resignation letter was read aloud on the floor of the House, making his stepping down official.

A federal official said Collins’ guilty plea did not require him to step down, and that he did so voluntarily.

Oct. 3, 2019

Both Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

https://www.wivb.com/news/top-stories/chris-collins-sentencing-january-17/

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Collins files appeal in insider trading case; effect on trial date unclear

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NEW YORK (WIVB) – Rep. Chris Collins has appealed a recent decision by the judge in his insider trading case. It could create a delay that leads to the postponement of his trail date, which is currently scheduled for February 3rd, 2020.

In a letter sent to Judge Vernon Broderick, on Friday, Collins’ attorney said he has filed an appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeal revolves around Speech or Debate concerns that Collins has raised.

“Congressman Collins does not anticipate filing any further motions in this Court bearing on the Speech or Debase Clause during the pendency of this appeal,” Jonathan Barr wrote.

Barr is Collins’ lead attorney in the case.

The Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution protects certain actions by congresspeople while they are at work. Collins has been asking for prosecutors to turn over more evidence that he thinks will prove his Speech or Debate rights were violated as the federal government investigated his case.

On September 6th, however, Broderick filed a ruling stating Collins was not entitled to receive that evidence. The Court of Appeals will now answer the same question.

While it could force a delay in the February trial date, attorney Cheryl Meyers Buth, who is not associated with the Collins case, says the trial date could still be saved.

“It depends on what the 2nd Circuit does,” Buth said. “They could issue, for example, an expedited briefing schedule which would require the government and Congressman Collins’ attorneys to file briefs much quicker than they would normally require.

Collins is accused of sending an insider tip about a drug trial to his son Cameron, who then allegedly passed the tip to his future father-in-law, Stephen Zarsky. All three are facing charges.

Prosecutors have raised the possibility of splitting up the case. Under that scenario, only Cameron Collins and Zarksy would go to trial in February. Chris Collins would go on trial at a later date.

All three defendants, however had objected to that proposal.

“We believe there should be one (trial),” Rep. Collins said after a court appearance earlier this month. “It was one indictment.”

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the appeal. Barr did not respond to a request for comment.

https://www.wivb.com/news/local-news/collins-files-appeal-in-insider-trading-case-effect-on-trial-date-unclear/

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Trooper charged with reckless driving in July crash that sent five to hospitals

Posted:  Updated: 

SHERIDAN, N.Y. (WIVB) — A New York State Trooper was arrested on Tuesday and charged in a July crash on a stretch of the Thruway that runs through Chautauqua County.

Stephen Barker is charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and reckless driving after an investigation into the July 15 crash.

State Police said that a cruiser driven by Barker, 33, crashed into the back of a minivan after he failed to notice that the van was slowing down to traffic.

The five occupants were taken to hospitals in Buffalo and Dunkirk. State police said all were treated for injuries ranging from minor to severe.

An attorney for Timothy McCann, who was taken to a Buffalo hospital by helicopter from the crash scene, said that he remains paralyzed.

“Timothy McCann arrived back at home on Christmas Eve from the spinal rehab center where he had been taken for treatment. The McCann’s are grateful to the emergency responders who saved his life that day (July 15). He appreciates the actions taken by the NYS Police to investigate the accident and District Attorney (Patrick) Swanson’s handling of the matter. Although he remains paralyzed, Mr. McCann is looking forward to spending 2020 with his family and prays for his other friends who were also injured in the accident.”

CHERYL MEYERS BUTH, ATTORNEY FOR CRASH VICTIM TIMOTHY MCCANN

Barker is suspended without pay, say state police.

https://www.wivb.com/news/local-news/chautauqua-county/trooper-charged-with-reckless-driving-in-july-crash-that-sent-five-to-hospitals/

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Female swimmers sue Niagara University, alleging harassment by men’s team – The Buffalo News

A member of the Niagara University women's swimming team and two of her former teammates have sued the university, charging that they and others were sexually harassed by members of the men's swimming team, with the knowledge of their coach.

The plaintiffs are Nastassja Posso, a senior who remains on the swim team; Jaime Rolf, a senior who quit the team in February 2018, forfeiting her swimming scholarship; and an unidentified woman who competed as a diver for four years before graduating in 2018.

The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, says Posso and Rolf sought treatment for depression, while the former diver "suffered from anxiety and depression."

"We went from being strong, competitive women who were sectional swimming champs in high school, to feeling broken down, depressed and drained of confidence," Posso and Rolf said in a statement released by their attorneys. "This is not how any college athlete or woman on campus should be treated."

The female swimmers said they and their teammates were ranked in order of physical appearance by the male swimmers, ridiculed for their weight and called vulgar names denoting female genitalia.

One woman allegedly was called a "water buffalo," while another allegedly was referred to as "Princess Thigh Gap."

Aside from one of the women being bumped into a bush, they made no allegations of improper physical contact.

They said Ben Nigro, who coaches both the men's and women's teams, failed to intercede and told the women to "be a duck," by which he apparently meant the women should let the verbal abuse roll off them like water off a duck's back.

Nigro, according to the lawsuit, told the women that the men on the team were immature, saying, "90% is how you react and 10% is what they do." He also said, "Boys will be boys," according to the lawsuit.

"The only 'locker room mentality' we should tolerate is one which supports, educates and demonstrates respect for all of our athletes; which recognizes that half the people in locker rooms across the country these days are women," said attorney Laurie A. Baker, who filed the suit along with attorneys Cheryl Meyers Buth and Brian M. Melber.

The former diver alleged that she complained to the assistant athletic director in 2016 about Nigro's response to an incident in which a male swimmer had sex with a female recruit. Nigro's response, according to the lawsuit: "He must not have been very good since she (the recruit) is not coming to NU."

"The coach and athletic department were either so unaware or so dismissive of the humiliating treatment of women swimmers that this appalling behavior became acceptable and continued year after year," Melber said.

The lawsuit also asserts the university violates federal law and NCAA rules because the women's team is treated unequally in terms of coaching and equipment.

"We are aware of a lawsuit that was recently filed in federal court," the university said in a statement Tuesday.

"Niagara University's foremost priority is the well-being of every member of our campus community. We proceed with due diligence to examine any issue that is brought forward that may compromise our culture, while ensuring that we do not rush to judgment or reach conclusions before the completion of the process. Where it is necessary and appropriate, the university engages independent investigators," according to the statement. "To ensure the integrity of the process, and out of respect for every individual involved, we do not comment on ongoing matters."

The suit claims the university slow-walked a formal complaint filed last December, dragging out the internal investigation until some of the accused male swimmers graduated and could no longer be punished.

No action has been taken yet in regard to the internal investigation, which involved the questioning of 22 witnesses, the lawsuit says.

The university's Title IX coordinator allegedly claimed the complaint was triggered by a female swimmer's animosity against a male swimmer who she used to date, according to the lawsuit.

Nigro coaches with the assistance of a male diving coach, Josh Larcom. The last female assistant coach, a diving specialist, quit in 2016 because of poor pay, according to the suit.

The structure, in effect, made the women's team "an appendage of the men's swim team," the lawsuit claims.

That structure "permitted, fostered and created a hostile environment," the lawsuit says.

"It’s not just the offensive language and behavior our clients were subjected to," Meyers Buth said. "It’s the negative message conveyed by the university by not having a woman head coach, woman assistant coach, woman trainer or women in other key roles. They learn women are not valued."

"For example, over a period of at least five years, men and women were required to stay on the same floors in hotels; the coach made sexual remarks, encouraged women to simply ignore derogatory language used by male swimmers, and failed to report or take steps to eliminate gender-based harassment, including body-shaming," the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs said they knew before enrolling at Niagara that the men and women sometimes practiced together.

"They didn’t realize the women didn’t really have their own team or own coaching staff, nor were they told that male and female swimmers and divers were required to be together as a team every day – they practiced, studied and ate together and participated in other mandatory joint training and social activities," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Nigro spent most of his time coaching the faster swimmers, which were the men, leaving the women to receive little feedback.

Nigro, 47, is in his 14th year at Niagara, according to the university website. Previously, he coached at New Hampshire, Vermont and North Carolina-Wilmington, his alma mater.

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Women swimmers suing Niagara University over harassment – The Niagara Gazette

COURTS: Swimmers cite ongoing sexual harassment from men's swim team.

Philip Gambini 


Strong women who joined Niagara University’s swim and dive team were scarred by the program’s culture of rampant sexual harassment, the athletes said in a public statement Wednesday.

Their remarks follow a federal lawsuit filed last week that alleged the school’s investigation into their complaints was biased against them and allowed their harassers to dodge potential accountability, the court documents said.

Current seniors Natasha Posso and Jaime Rolf, as well as an anonymous 2018 graduate, had decorated athletic resumes when they were recruited to NU. After joining, the women were repeatedly harassed by male athletes while their coach did nothing to intervene, the lawsuit charged.

The behavior permeated the program, they discovered only amounted to an “appendage” of the men’s program, the documents said. The female athletes were without their own practice schedule, their own coaching staff and, effectively, their own team, according to the lawsuit.

“We are competitive, strong women who were sectional swimming champs in high school,” Posso and Rolf said in a statement provided by their attorneys, Laurie Baker and Cheryl Meyers Buth. “This sexist, offensive behavior left us broken down, depressed and drained of confidence – this is not how any college athlete or woman on campus should be treated.”

All three plaintiffs’ mental health suffered from the environment. One became suicidal for a time.

The decision to go public with their identity and claims was a difficult one, Meyers Buth said. The filing is a result of the way the university handled the women’s internal complaints and is rooted in a desire that the school “provide equal opportunities to women,” the attorney said Wednesday.

And after the suit’s public filing in the federal courts, the firm’s office phone has been ringing, Meyers Buth said.

“We’ve talked to a number of young women since filing the complaint,” she said. “We’ve also gotten calls from parents whose daughters had similar experiences.”

Read the Full Article

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No jail time for UB student in 2018 hit-and-run on campus – The Buffalo News

Christensen

Hannah Christensen sat inside her parked car on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, watching as police and emergency responders treated Renuka Ramanadhan.
It was the evening of Nov. 1, shortly after the car Christensen was driving struck Ramanadhan, a fellow UB student, in front of the Hadley Village Apartments. After seeing that the person she had hit was getting medical attention, Christensen drove away.

But when police caught up with her two weeks later, after receiving a tip about her possible involvement in the incident, she was remorseful and cooperated by giving a statement.

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Mt Mercy Academy’s annual scholarship Gala April 6th at Sheas Seneca

McAuley Gala at Mount Mercy Academy

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtosczpBJVD/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1aoumqa6a5xvb

 

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How an idea on a whim turned Buffalo attorney Cheryl Meyers Buth into the one-woman show of sports agents

Cheryl Meyers Buth at her desk
By Lyndsey D'Arcangelo  Dec 14, 2018

If​ a sequel to “Jerry Maguire” —​ the​ memorable​ 1996 sports drama featuring a wayward​ sports​ agent determined​ to uphold​ his​ moral fiber and​ not​​ value corporate interest over his clients — were in the works, the organizers might consider casting Cheryl Meyers Buth as the lead.

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Cuomo signs Reproductive Health Act into law

Abortion now regulated under public health law

WGRZ Ch.2
Author: Alison Chilton
Published: 5:15 AM EST January 23, 2019
Updated: 5:25 AM EST January 23, 2019

Women in New York State now have the right to an abortion under the state's public health law.

The Reproductive Health Act passed the senate yesterday by a vote of 38 to 24.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law last night on the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Local Western New York attorney, Cheryl Meyers Buth, explains that the bill moves abortion, which had previously been regulated under the penal law, under the public health law. "It gives women the right to abortions in the last trimester if their life is in danger or if the fetus is deemed unviable."

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Drug dealer turned entrepreneur is sentenced to prison

By Phil Fairbanks Published February 19, 2019 Updated February 20, 2019

When Fawzi Al-Arashi was accused of selling synthetic marijuana out of his North Tonawanda storefront, he set out to make things right with his family.

Six years later, the e-cigarette company he formed after his arrest is doing $150 million in sales and employs 140 people, many of them Burmese immigrants.

Al-Arashi's lawyers say Magellan Technology, located in Riverside, is now one of the largest e-cigarette makers in the country.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara pointed to Al-Arashi's business success in sentencing him to a year and a day in prison, well below his recommended sentence of up to 71 months in prison.

Al-Arashi's sentence stems from a 6-year old plea deal in which he admitted running a wholesale synthetic marijuana distribution business that included his convenience store on Main Street in North Tonawanda.

He also sold synthetic marijuana to other retailers and owned a warehouse on Ridge Lea Road in Amherst big enough to handle large quantities of the drug.

"That was the lowest point of his life," defense lawyer Cheryl Meyers Buthsaid Tuesday. "But unlike a lot of our clients, he didn't sit around and feel sorry for himself."

When Al-Arashi was first arrested in 2012, federal prosecutors described him as a wholesaler who bought his synthetic marijuana in California, repackaged it at his warehouse and resold it across New York State.

Later, as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, he admitted being part of a larger criminal conspiracy.

"He directed the conspiracy," Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch said Tuesday.

Investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration said their interest in Al-Arashi began with phone calls from suspicious parents and alleged that at least two children were hospitalized after using drugs he sold.

At the time, investigators said they also seized four of Al-Arashi's bank accounts, which held about $725,000, as well as about $50,000 worth of silver bars and coins found in his Williamsville home.

Investigators said Al-Arashi sold the synthetic marijuana in brightly colored packages with names such as "Pump It," "Tiger Shack" and "California Dreams."

"Despite the green rush sweeping our area of late, today's sentencing makes two things crystal clear," U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. in a statement Tuesday, "One, the manufacture and distribution of marijuana - whether real or synthetic - remain federal crimes. And two, proceeds from the manufacture and distribution of marijuana remain subject to federal seizure and forfeiture."

Meyers Buth said Al-Arashi, a native of Yemen, started Magellan Technology with the help of family and friends who loaned him money after his arrest six years ago, and suggested his success is evidence of his rehabilitation.

"He built the company from scratch," she said. "We believe what he's done the last six-and-a-half years is extraordinary."

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What could be next in the AG’s investigation into the Catholic Church, WGRZ, September 2018

Local attorney Cheryl Meyers-Buth speaks with us about the NY Attorney General's investigation into the Catholic Church.

September 6, 2018

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Just like that bombshell investigation in Pennsylvania, New York's Attorney General is opening her own investigation into allegations of priest sex abuse in the Catholic Church. . . .

The civil investigation launched Thursday includes a clergy abuse hotline and online complaint form for anyone to submit confidential information. That's on top of the A.G. issuing a subpoena to each diocese in New York. Underwood's office is also working on a joint investigation with district attorneys from across the state to uncover potential criminal wrongdoing.

"What kind of documents could they be looking for, or are they allowed to request?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.

"[T}hey will be looking for are any policies, procedures on handling the complaints, anything that might be relevant to a cover-up by the church, you know, abuse that was concealed intentionally. Reports that were taken and never followed up on. Things like that," says attorney Cheryl Meyers-Buth.

Meyers-Buth says the church will have to turn over both paper and electronic documents going back as far as they've been maintained, and the investigation will take as long as necessary.

"For those for whom the statute of limitations either in a criminal case or for a civil lawsuit is already extinguished, at least they get to tell their story and they provide information as background which could also help corroborate current complaints, for example, if there's one particular clergy member who has been accused, even if the statute of limitations is expired, those other complaints may be helpful," says Meyers-Buth.

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‘I can’t count that high,’ Kingsman says of members’ cocaine use, Buffalo News, March 2018

Defense lawyers attacked Masse's credibility and pointed to the numerous lies he told a federal grand jury four years ago to suggest he might still be lying.

They also referred to his more than 30 years of drug use and wondered aloud if it had taken a toll on his memory.

"Nine times, after putting your hand on the Bible and swearing to tell the truth, you looked at those grand jurors and lied," defense lawyer Cheryl Meyers Buth told him Friday.

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After moonlight stroll turns into tragedy, who’s to blame? Buffalo News, March 2018

There is no evidence that either John or Van Aernam had anything more than a few social drinks at the event, said Laurie A. Baker, who represents Van Aernam as Daniels' co-counsel. Cheryl Meyers Buth, who represents John's family, agreed.

"There is no evidence that they were impaired or inebriated," Baker said. "These were two people who stopped on a bridge on a very nice night, and decided to go for a short walk. The real issue here is that the state had abandoned this bridge for decades. There were no lights on the bridge, no warning signs, nothing to stop anyone from going up on that bridge."

The accident and its aftermath have been a "nightmare" for Van Aernam and John's family, which includes a son, two daughters and a young granddaughter, Baker said.

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Footage of Cheektowaga man killing father leads to not guilty plea, Buffalo News, January 2018

Family members had begun to be concerned about Sirwilliam's mental health in the days and weeks before the shooting,  defense attorney Cheryl Meyers-Buth said after court. He showed no signs of being violent, she said, but he was acting out of character and showing signs of paranoia.

"The sad part is, he had actually gone with his girlfriend to a doctor the Thursday before (the shooting) and then to another doctor with his mother that weekend because he was saying he didn't feel right," Meyers-Buth said.

Both times, she said, Hardy was told there was nothing wrong.

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Colden couple admit $1.2 million fraud against VA, Postal Service, Buffalo News, March 2017

Defense lawyer Cheryl Meyers Buth said Cathleen Klaffka, 62, was forced to plead guilty because the law says she had an obligation to turn in her husband. She also wonders why it took so long for their crimes to be discovered.

"This case raises questions about how to fix a VA system where someone who is not disabled is paid over a million dollars in benefits despite undergoing regular physical examinations," she said.

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Jury gets case in Danielle Allen trial

Jul 18, 2018

Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday in the trial of a woman accused of killing her boyfriend in Livingston County

"Don't kill me, please don't kill me. Those were the words that were loud enough for Justin Bergman to hear upstairs," Cheryl Meyers Buth, Allen's attorney stated. Meyers Buth told the jury that [   ] Allen's injuries were consistent with a person who had been choked. "If she was that mad...you'd see multiple stab wounds. She was not out of control, she did not kill him for no reason. She killed him or he fell on the knife because she was trying t protect herself," Meyers Buth stated.

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BLJ: New digs, new start for Meyers Buth, Buffalo Business First, October 2017

Cheryl Meyers Buth and Laurie Baker have worked together for a decade. At the end of last year, they decided to branch off together and in September they opened Meyers Buth Law Group PLLC in Orchard Park.

“It just made sense,” said Baker, who lives in the area. So does Meyers Buth.

The Southtowns base is a renovated office in the historic New York Telephone Building at 21 Princeton Place. The location also made sense for their clients, they said.

“Both of us had been downtown for many years,” Baker said. “We wanted to open an office that was going to be comfortable and convenient for our clients, away from the downtown hustle and bustle. We wanted an atmosphere that our clients would feel secure and calm. Basically, just a low-key atmosphere for our clients.”

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Law firm establishes office in village, Orchard Park Bee, October 2017

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Western New York attorneys Cheryl Meyers Buth and Laurie Baker have recently launched their new law firm, Meyers Buth Law Group PLLC.

The firm’s newly renovated office is in the New York Telephone Building, located at 21 Princeton Place in the Village of Orchard Park.

Meyers Buth Law Group handles criminal defense, civil litigation, personal injury and sports/entertainment law matters.

According to the firm, the founding partners wanted to provide personalized, client-centered legal services to individuals and small business clients, which is often difficult in other law firm settings.

“Starting Meyers Buth Law Group gives us the opportunity to get to know our clients and for us to earn their trust while delivering a broad range of legal services,” Meyers Buth said.

Baker agreed.

“We take a personalized approach with all our clients, treating them as we would our own family members, realizing that many times we are helping people through some of life’s most challenging situations,” Baker said.

With more than 20 years of trial practice, Meyers Buth’s diverse range of state and federal court, criminal defense, and civil litigation experience makes her a top resource for a variety of clients who need legal representation, the company said.

She has earned numerous awards and has been recognized by the New York State Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York and the federal judges for the Western District of New York.

Baker has experience representing individuals and families in complex cases involving school liability, wrongful death, employment discrimination/sexual harassment, municipal claims, motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents and premises liability, the firm said.

She has recently been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in the WNY legal community.

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