NORTH TONAWANDA -- A Falls couple, with a criminal history of fighting with and fleeing from police, have been charged in connection with a high-speed chase that led officers from multiple law enforcement agencies from North Tonawanda to the Falls Tuesday afternoon.
North Tonawanda police said Wednesday that Michael Quarcini, 48, of the Falls, was charged with reckless endangerment, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, unlawfully fleeing a police officer and 17 vehicle and traffic violations as a result of the chase. Officers said Quarcini also had an "outstanding arrest warrant out of the city of Tonawanda."
Quarcini's girlfriend, Heather Moody, 32, of the Falls, was charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration and seven vehicle and traffic law violations.
The couple pleaded not guilty to the charges during an arraignment in North Tonawanda City Court on Wednesday morning and were immediately released from custody. Their charges are non-qualifying for bail under New York's Bail Reform Act.
Police identified Quarcini as the driver, and Moody as the passenger in a silver minivan with Virginia license plates that North Tonawanda officers had attempted to pull over, at around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, in the vicinity of Wheatfield Street and River Road.
Officers said Quarcini raced away from them, at a high rate of speed, and they gave chase. Police did not say what prompted them to attempt a traffic stop on the minivan.
However, law enforcement sources told the Gazette that North Tonawanda officers had previously tried to stop the same minivan on July 15, and the driver, on that day, also fled from them.
As the North Tonawanda officers gave chase on Tuesday, patrol units from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police joined the pursuit. The chase went from River Road to Niagara Falls Boulevard, where Falls police became involved.
The mint-van, followed by no less than eight police patrol vehicles, with lights and sirens activated, raced down the boulevard through rush hour traffic, entering the Falls and continuing onto Pine Avenue.
Because of the danger to civilian traffic and pedestrians, state police and sheriff’s deputies left the chase in the Pine Avenue business district. Falls police swarmed into the North End as the vehicle, with Quarcini allegedly at the wheel, weaved up and down residential side streets,
When the van started to speed the wrong-way down Ferry Avenue, both Falls cops and North Tonawanda patrol officers discontinued their chase.
Minutes later, a Falls Police patrol lieutenant located the van, parked in an alleyway in the 1500 block of 18th Street. Officers on the scene said smoke was pouring from the engine compartment of the van and they feared the vehicle would "burst into flames."
Falls police and New York State Police troopers then located Quarcini and Moody in a building just off the alley. The pair were taken into custody and turned over to North Tonawanda Police.
The van was seized, loaded on a flat-bed tow truck and taken to North Tonawanda Police headquarters for processing.
Law enforcement sources said Quarcini and Moody may be linked to a recent series of “store larcenies” in the Falls, Wheatfield and North Tonawanda.
The couple are not strangers to Niagara County law enforcement agencies. On May 14, Quarcini and Moody were arrested by Niagara County Sheriff's deputies after a high speed chase through Wheatfield and the town of Niagara.
Deputies had attempted to stop their vehicle on Walmore Road, but Quarcini. who was at the wheel, refused to pull over and instead sped north toward Lewiston. While traveling west on Saunders Settlement Road, Quarcini drove into another vehicle and continued driving for about 100 yards until his vehicle became disabled.
Quarcini and Moody, 32, were taken into custody without incident. An 87-year-old passenger in the vehicle that was rear-ended was transported to Mount St. Mary's Hospital after complaining of neck pain.
Deputies charges Quarcini with driving while intoxicated, unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of an injury accident, second-degree reckless driving and multiple other vehicle and traffic charges in that incident.
Quarcini, at that time, an active arrest warrant out of the city of Tonawanda for a charge of petit larceny, believed to be tied to a shoplifting incident.
Moody, at that time, had an active arrest warrant, also out of the city of Tonawanda, on a charge of third-degree burglary.
In January, Quarcini and Moody led multiple law enforcement agencies on a high speed chase through several jurisdictions and then into the Falls. That pursuit ended on Pierce Avenue after Quarcin drove over a police tire deflation device.
Following the January incident, Quarcini was taken into custody on multiple vehicle and traffic charges and both he and Moody were charged on outstanding arrest warrants.
In September 2020, Quarcini and Moody were charged in connection with a shoplifting incident that escalated into violence at a supermarket in the 7700 block of Niagara Falls Boulevard.
Moody was stopped by supermarket employees as she tried to walk out of the store with roughly $700 worth of food. While employees detained Moody, Quarcini entered the store and shoved an employee into a wall, injuring them.
Quarcini and Moody then fled from the store.
A sheriff's deputy spotted Quarcini and Moody as they were getting into a vehicle and tried to stop them. But Quarcini, who was driving, sped away, almost hitting the deputy.
The following day, a New York State Police trooper located the vehicle, parked at a motel on Niagara Falls Boulevard in the Falls. Qiarcini and Moody were located in a room a the motel and taken into custody.
Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti expressed rising frustration with Quarcini and Moody's continuing criminal exploits.
"The last time we chased them, they hit a car with an elderly driver and caused injury," the sheriff said. "At what point are these two going to be put in jail for their actions? They're endangering the community. This is what happens when there's no consequences for your actions."