‘Suspicious death’ of Amherst Funeral Director Ruled a Suicide

Jan. 9, 2020

Yellow crime scene tape could be seen on Nov. 4 outside the John E. Roberts Funeral Home on Grover Cleveland Highway. Charles Durante, a funeral home director there, was found in the middle of the road and later died in what police now say was a suicide. (Aaron Besecker/Buffalo News)
Yellow crime scene tape could be seen on Nov. 4 outside the John E. Roberts Funeral Home on Grover Cleveland Highway. Charles Durante, a funeral home director there, was found in the middle of the road and later died in what police now say was a suicide. 

The “suspicious death” of a man who was found last year in the road outside the John E. Roberts Funeral Home in Amherst was a suicide, police say.

Police responding to a 911 call just after 6 a.m. Nov. 4 found Charles Durante in the middle of North Bailey Avenue, near Grover Cleveland Highway. He was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he died around 1 p.m.

As Amherst police investigated how the 43-year-old ended up in the street, they discovered a possible hazmat situation at the funeral home involving an embalming fluid known as “dricav.” Hazmat crews responded and declared the area cleared.

Durante was a director at the funeral home at 280 Grover Cleveland for about 10 years and lived in an upper-floor apartment.
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Security Boost Helps Amherst Chuck E. Cheese’s to Get License Renewed Again

Jan. 8, 2020

Amherst officials have renewed the game room license for the Chuck E. Cheese's on Harlem Road. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)
Amherst officials have renewed the game room license for the Chuck E. Cheese’s on Harlem Road.

Amherst officials say they’ve had no serious incidents at the Chuck E. Cheese’s in town since the company made significant security improvements to the entertainment venue in 2018.

The Town Board on Monday voted with little discussion to renew the game room license for the facility at 4994 Harlem Road, at Sheridan Drive, for another year.

A series of high-profile incidents, including assaults of guests and employees, between spring 2017 and summer 2018 led town officials to threaten to shutter the facility unless safety fixes were made.
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End of an Era: Stereo Advantage Store Closes As Company Focuses On Repair Business

Jan. 8, 2020

Almost 100 people attended a seminar held by The Stereo Advantage on high-definition television in 2005. (Buffalo News file photo)
Almost 100 people attended a seminar held by The Stereo Advantage on high-definition television in 2005.

In 1978, Stereo Advantage began as a tiny electronics store on Main Street in Williamsville, favored by music fans seeking optimal sound for their speakers and turntables. But over the past four decades, its owner, the Advantage Co., diversified toward a wide array of other services.

It’s the end of an era for audiophiles: The Stereo Advantage store on Wehrle Drive in Amherst has closed.

“It’s simply time to move on,” Tony Ragusa, the store’s founder, said in a statement.

Lifetime Service warranties on Stereo Advantage purchases will remain in effect. The Advantage Co.’s Lifetime Service & Solutions Co. has grown and expanded nationally, and the company is turning its focus on it and its many other ventures that span from clothes and food to finance and recruiting.
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Lois Weinstein, 73, Directed Holocaust Resource Center

Jan. 8, 2020

Lois Weinstein, 73, directed Holocaust Resource Center

Lois Weinstein was shopping with her daughters at a mall in the late 1970s when a sales clerk, not knowing the family was Jewish, asked what the girls wanted Santa to bring them.

“Well, they had been good,” she told Buffalo News reporter Paula Voell in 2007, “But still Santa wasn’t going to bring them anything. So they were upset. And here were these nice little girls and it was so unfair. They’d say, ‘Why can’t Santa come? I’ve been good.’

“At that time, I wasn’t equipped to give an answer,” she said, “and in trying to find a way to do it, instead I found a void.”

Her research to find an answer led her to write “Explaining Christmas to the Jewish Child,” a first-of-its-kind booklet she published in 1981.

Adopted by temple schools and synagogue libraries in many states and Canada, it sold 10,000 copies. It also served as a guide for introducing Jewish traditions to Christians.

Mrs. Weinstein went on to become director of Buffalo’s Bureau of Jewish Education for three years and executive director of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo for eight years.

“She was in the forefront of Jewish-Christian relations,” said her husband, former Amherst Supervisor Dr. Barry A. Weinstein. “She was very knowledgeable and worked with a lot of Christian educators. She spoke at churches and gave tours at Temple Beth Zion.”
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DA: Probe Shows Hate Crime, Arson Pose No Larger Threat to Area Jews

Jan. 7, 2020

DA: Probe shows hate crime, arson pose no larger threat to area Jews

Authorities say a monthslong campaign of harassment directed at an Amherst family doesn’t pose a threat to the wider Jewish community.

An 18-year-old Amherst man is charged with a hate crime after, prosecutors say, he barraged a Jewish acquaintance with threatening phone calls and text messages.

Police also are looking into a fire set at the victim’s home last month.

“The initial investigation into the arson reveals that there appears to be an anti-Semitic component to the crime,” the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday morning. “However, the initial investigation also reveals that this appears to be an isolated incident directed at a specific member of the household.”
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For a Decade, Dr. Eugene Gosy Illegally Prescribed Painkillers

Jan. 7, 2020

Dr. Eugene Gosy leaves the federal courthouse after taking a plea deal on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)
Dr. Eugene Gosy leaves the federal courthouse after taking a plea deal on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.

Dr. Eugene M. Gosy, the Williamsville pain specialist who came to symbolize the opioid crisis, stood before a federal judge Tuesday and admitted that he unlawfully prescribed painkillers to his patients over a 10-year period.

Gosy, who at one time operated one of the largest pain management practices in the state, acknowledged prescribing  fentanyl, oxycodone and other drugs without a legitimate medical purpose.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, the 59-year old doctor stopped short of admitting any connection to the six overdose deaths detailed in the indictment against him.

Gosy, 59, will face a recommended sentence of 78 months in prison when he is sentenced on May 21 by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr.
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New Amherst Town Board Member Resigns IDA Seat

Jan. 7, 2020

Mike Szukala, who recently won a seat on the Amherst Town Board, has resigned from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency’s board.

Under town law, Szukala is allowed to serve on both boards simultaneously and other officials have done so previously.

But the Democrat said he stepped down from the IDA board to make sure he could give his full attention to his new responsibilities on the Town Board and to his full-time job as Erie County’s Medicaid inspector general.

Szukala did say he may end up serving as the Town Board liaison to the IDA board.

The Town Board was set to vote Monday night to appoint Anthony Agostino, an accountant and chief financial officer with Northtown Automotive, to fill the remainder of Szukala’s IDA term, which expires in 2022.
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Amherst Supervisor Won’t Seek Ranzenhofer’s State Senate Seat

Jan. 7, 2020

Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa. (Mark Mulville/News file photo)

Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa has decided not to seek election to the State Senate.

The Democrat had said he would explore running for the 61st District seat now held by State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst.

Ranzenhofer announced in December he will leave after his term ends this year. This set off jockeying to replace Ranzenhofer, particularly among Democrats who now control the State Senate majority.

Kulpa said this week he decided not to run because of family obligations, his youth sports coaching commitment and his interest in continuing projects he’s started since taking over as supervisor two years ago.
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Amherst, Tonawanda Blamed After Car Strikes 17-year-old Crossing Niagara Falls Boulevard

Jan. 7, 2020

Six pedestrians have been killed in recent years along a 1.7-mile section of Niagara Falls Boulevard. (John Hickey/News file photo)

The father of a 17-year-old who was badly injured last fall while trying to walk across Niagara Falls Boulevard has notified Amherst and Tonawanda of his intention to sue.

John Young’s son – identified only as T.Y. – was crossing the boulevard near Roger Chaffee Drive at around 7:15 p.m. Oct. 13, when a northbound vehicle struck him, according to Young’s notice of claim and Amherst police.

Police did not charge the vehicle’s driver, a 23-year-old Tonawanda woman. The teen suffered head trauma, a fractured neck and a fractured collarbone and, Young said in the filing, some injuries are lasting.

Young blames the accident on the towns’ failure to install a traffic signal, marked crosswalks and sufficient street lighting near the scene.
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The Serfs Must Challenge the Monarchy

Jan. 5, 2020

I think it is important the communities are listened to and that their voice is heard, particularly with local government, because you are talking very much about communities.


Amherst Town Hall

A gift was given to Rudy Giuliani, oops I meant Dal Giulian of Amherst, NY. He has been on our very important Planning Board as a holdover for 2 years.

Giulian’s term on the Planning Board expired in 2017 but for some unknown reason, the Town Board refused the public outcry to remove him or give the public a valid reason.

A government that doesn’t follow the rules in our Town Code is a monarchy, not a Republic. This a major and intentional move to override our Town Code for the good of our town Board not for the people of Amherst.

There are several instances where the same person whose term has expired is held over for the good of the town not the people of Amherst. This must stop now. Amherst is either a Republic or a cesspool of a monarchy.

At tomorrow’s Town Board meeting, January 6, 2020, the board will once again put Dal Giulian officially on the Planning Board as well as name him the Chairman of the new board called the Amherst Architectural Review Board.

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