Chris Caya

Reporter

Ways to Connect

Ringo Starr and His 13th All Starr Band take the stage tonight at the Fallsview Casino in Canada for the first show of their North American tour.

Media and invited guests got a preview Wednesday. 

Starr's newest band mates,  Steve Lukather of Toto and Gregg Rolie of Santana are joining All Starr alumni Richard Page, Mark Rivera, Gregg Bissonette, and Todd Rundgren, who has  toured with the All Starrs twice before. 

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

 Preparations are in full-swing at Goat Island in Niagara Falls for Nik Wallenda's high-wire walk this Friday. 

O'Connell Electric, a Western New York electrical business, has been working on the cable project for nearly a year. 

Michael Parkes is the Power Group Manager at O'Connell.  He said his crews will feed the cable through a 40-thousand pound line tensioner that is anchored down on Goat Island. 

Chris Caya / WBFO/AM 970 News

Campaign contributions appear to be flowing to Albany from opponents of increasing the minimum wage.  According to Fair Elections for New York, $399,436.87 in contributions have been made to the campaigns of state senators and party committees since January 2010. 

Meanwhile, the proposed hike in the minimum wage remains stalled. At a press conference Monday, outside Lincoln United Methodist Church, Director of Community Organizing for PUSH Buffalo, Jennifer Meccozi said, there's strength in numbers, and people can send a message to politicians. 

Officials on both sides of the border continue preparing for Nik Wallenda's high wire walk over the Horseshoe Falls this Friday night.

According to Wallenda's estimates,  120,000 people could turn out for the daredevil's walk across the Horeshoe Falls. 

Most of the crowd though will be on the Canadian side, which has the most room,  and offers the best sight lines of the wire which will be 180-feet above the lower Niagara River. 

Parks Police Major David Page says 25,000 to 30,000 people are expected in and around Goat Island and the City of Niagara Falls. 

WBFO News photos by Daniel Robison

Law enforcement and emergency service agencies in Ontario have signed-off on an "integrated public safety plan" for Nik Wallenda's wire walk June 15.

Niagara Parks Police Chief Douglas Kane said the crowd for the rare event over the Horseshoe Falls will likely be "wall-to-wall."

Federal law enforcement agencies are offering a $10,000 reward in connection with the firebombing of a home in Buffalo last year.

The FBI's Special Agent in Charge Christopher Piehota said a duplex on Mackinaw Street in the Old First Ward had to be demolished after it was damaged by a second arson in May of last year. 

One firefighter was hurt at the scene.  But the victim, a refugee, was not injured. 

Piehota said evidence indicates it may be a hate crime  and investigators need the public's help. 

A state lawmaker from Elma is calling for changes to the current DW I hit-and-run law. 

Senator Patrick Gallivan is proposing a new bill in the wake of last week's verdict in Dr. James Corasanti's vehicular manslaughter trial.  Gallivan said under his proposal a drunk driver who fails to stop would have no excuse for "not knowing they hit a person."

Corasanti was acquitted of serious charges for the hit-and-run death of Alexandra Rice.

Google Map, street view photo

Along with a dispute with New York State over alleged violations of its casino compact, the Seneca Nation of Indians is now questioning the safety of state bridges and highways on the Nation's territories. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo was denying reports yesterday that his effort to expand casino gaming across New York was influenced by $2 million in donations to a lobbying group created to support him. 

File photo

The removal of an eyesore along the I-190 downtown is complete.

The steel frame for the original Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Hotel complex has been completely removed and work on a smaller casino is expected to get underway soon.

In the meantime, Seneca Gaming Corporation today awarded nearly $1 million in grants for neighborhood improvements near their casino at Michigan Avenue and Perry Street. 

The Canadian Consulate's Visa and Immigration section in Buffalo is now closed.  Visa services have been transferred to other offices across the country ahead of the consulate's closing at the end of August. 

Members of the Western New York Congressional delegation sent a letter to Prime Minister Steven Harper last week urging him to reconsider the cost-cutting move.  Rep. Kathy Hochul says given all the commerce that crosses the region's international bridges, the consulate is important.  

Among the region's 98 school districts,  Sweet Home tops Business First's ratings for teacher pay. 

Projects Editor Scott Thomas says the rankings are based on five different levels of a teacher's career ,  including peak pay  which in Sweet Home is $97, 567.

 "We've got Sweet Home running number one. Williamsville number two.   Both, obviously, suburban districts," Thomas said.

Chris Caya/WBFO

Several local members of the state delegation are pushing for swift passage of the cyber-bullying law currently pending in Albany. 

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer says the bill came about after bullying victim Jamie Rodemeyer, a Williamsville teenager, committed suicide last September. 

Ranzenhofer says the issue pervades the entire state and he is challenging Governor Cuomo to "get on board."   The Amherst Republican says the updated bill defines the law and aids police how to handle alleged cases of cyber-bullying.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Alexandria Rice's father Richard and her mother Tammy Schueler say they are "unhappy, shocked, dissatisfied [and] disappointed" with the verdict against the man who struck and killed their daughter. 

Dr. James Corasanti was acquitted Wednesday of the most serious charges in the hit-and-run death of 18-year old Rice.  The jurors cleared Corasanti on two manslaughter charges as well as tampering with evidence and leavening the scene of an accident without reporting, resulting in death.  Corasanti was only found guilty on a DWI charge.

Chris Caya/WBFO

The Buffalo Police Department has fired one of its own after an arrest this morning by federal law enforcement officials. 

U.S. Attorney William Hochul said former police officer Jorge Melendez, 41, is charged with running a drug manufacturing business out of two warehouses in South Buffalo. Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI arrested Melendez at Police Headquarters. 

WBFO News by Mike Desmond

An Erie County Court  jury has found Dr. James Corasanti not guilty on all of the major charges against him in the death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

Jurors returned to the courtroom just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to issue their verdict.

The jury acquitted the 56-year-old Corasanti on second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, resulting death, and tampering with physical evidence.  

Pool photo

Jury deliberations will resume at 9:30 Wednesday morning in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

The defense rested its case late Tuesday in the vehicular manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

Closing arguments are slated for next Tuesday, May 29. A standard defense motion to dismiss the case was denied by Judge Sheila DiTullio.

In testimony Tuesday, an accident reconstruction consultant testified Corasanti wasn't driving as fast as police estimated the night he struck and killed Alexandria Rice, and that Rice was half-way out of the bike lane at the time.

The trial of Dr. James Corasanti enters its 16th day in Erie County Court today.

Corasanti finished testifying early Monday afternoon and then the jury heard a defense witness pick apart the results of Corasanti's blood test.  

For Corasanti's second day on the stand, Alexandria Rice's father sat in his usual front row seat in the gallery wearing a neon green shirt that appeared close in color to the top Rice had on the night she was struck and killed by Corasanti's vehicle.  

 Dr. James Corasanti was called to the witness stand Friday morning in his vehicular manslaughter for the fatal hit-and-run death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

Defense Attorney Joel Daniels called Corasanti to testify in day 14 of the trial in Erie County Court. The courtroom was packed in anticipation of Corasanti taking the stand.

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

A defense request to dismiss all charges against Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst was denied Thursday.  Erie County Court Judge Sheila DiTullio denied the request by defense attorney Joel Daniels, who was seeking to have all five charges against the Amherst doctor dropped. 

The prosecution rested its case late Thursday morning after calling its 37th witness to the stand. Corasanti is accused in the fatal hit-and-run of Alexandria Rice last July while she was riding on her longboard on Heim Road.  

WBFO News file photo

The investigator who reconstructed the scene where 18-year-old Alexandria Rice was struck and killed stepped down Tuesday afternoon after spending two days on the stand.

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

In Erie County Court Monday morning, prosecutors began by laying the groundwork for Amherst Police Senior Accident Investigator Robert McMahon to testify in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti. 

Corasanti is accused of vehicular manslaughter in the July 8, 2011 hit-and-run death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

It is day ten of the vehicular manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti.   The Amherst doctor is accused in the fatal July 8 hit and run of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

An Amherst Police officer testified Friday about collecting evidence at Corasanti's home. Detective Peter Crofut said one of the first things that was visible on the vehicle was a "palm print" on the hood of the car. 

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

Cell phone company records indicate Dr. James Corasanti sent and received nearly 80 text messages the day Alexandria Rice was killed.  But by the time investigators seized Corasanti's phone, most of them were gone.

Amherst Police Technical Services Officer Thomas Barillari testified legal procedures kept investigators from seizing Corasanti's phone until August 1, nearly three weeks after Rice was struck and killed along Heim Road. 

Mike Desmond/WBFO

A former Common Council member who is also employed as a Buffalo Police officer is facing federal charges for allegedly abusing sick leave at his job. 

Police say Robert Quintana, 50, was arrested this morning and charged with mail fraud and healthcare fraud. Quintana has been listed as 'injured on duty' since 2005 and has been receiving full pay and benefits. He had told the Police Department he had severe back injuries from a fall on duty.

Pool photo

Testimony provided in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti Tuesday indicates both the doctor and the victim were texting right around the time 18-year-old "Alix" Rice was struck and killed last July. 

Erie County Court judge Sheila DiTullio has denied a defense request for a mistrial in the case of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

As the trial resumed Monday morning defense attorney Joel Daniels asked the judge to declare a mistrial, claiming a report in Sunday's Buffalo News could have tainted jurors.

Corasanti is standing trial for vehicular manslaughter in the hit and run of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice of Amherst last July on Heim Road. 

The prosecution says Corasanti had been drinking prior to hit and run.

The medical examiner who conducted an autopsy on Alexandria Rice was among those called to the stand today in the continuing manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti in Erie County Court.

The first witness called on Day 6 of the trial was Amherst Police Detective John Trabert.  He testified about arranging what investigators call a "controlled pick-up" of the garbage that Corasanti's placed at the curb in front of their house the week after Rice was struck and killed while skateboarding on Heim Road. 

Pool photos provided by Buffalo News

Dr. James Corasanti's vehicular manslaughter trial resumed for its fifth day Thursday afternoon in Erie County Court with the Prosecution calling registered nurse Hope Dalrymple. 

Dalrymple is the RN at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital who carried out the court-ordered DWI blood test on Dr. Corasanti five hours after the car he was driving struck and killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice as she was skateboarding on Heim Road the night of July 8, 2011. 

Some local children will be taking part in a new initiative designed to promote healthy living.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation has awarded a grant to the Independent Health Foundation to bring the national "Soccer For Success" program to ten Buffalo Public elementary schools. 

The youth development program uses soccer as a tool to combat childhood obesity. Independent Health President and CEO Dr. Michael Cropp said the epidemic of obesity and diabetes is driving the crisis in healthcare today.  

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