Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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October 12, 2012

Second trial averted by McFall plea deal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The former owner of the Peters Dry Cleaning facility pleaded guilty to a building code violation Thursday, averting a second trial on the charge and settling a 10-month-old dispute with the City of Lockport.

Patrick McFall of Newfane, the former owner of 316 Willow St., pleaded guilty to failure to maintain the property in a clean, safe, sanitary condition. The charge stemmed from his inability to legally remove asbestos-tainted rubble after a section of the building collapsed Dec. (date).

Attorneys for McFall and the city hashed out a case settlement Thursday afternoon, when City Judge Thomas DiMillo had scheduled a final pre-trial conference for McFall. Jury selection for McFall’s trial was to start Oct. 17.

The settlement appeared to be hastened by DiMillo’s warning to attorneys that Thursday was the last day they could pursue alternatives to trial. He planned to contact the county commissioner of jurors today to request empanelment proceedings and once he did, he said, there would be no turning back.

The settlement has McFall agreeing to pay more than $38,000 in past-due property taxes and utility charges on 316 Willow, in exchange for the city’s support of a conditional discharge of the penalty that McFall faces for the building code violation. 

When McFall is sentenced Nov. 15, he might be fined up to $1,000 per day the violation existed or ordered to jail for up to one year, but the sentence will be put off. If McFall makes a $5,000 down payment on the back-taxes bill by Nov. 15, and monthly payments of $200 for one year, the court case against him will be over. If he doesn’t make the down payment by sentencing day, or fails to make a monthly payment during the period, then he’ll serve his sentence, defense attorney Jon Ross Wilson said.

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