Niagara Gazette — The complaints were coming from everyday folks, just trying to live their lives in peace.
Neighbors, community leaders, block club representatives were all calling Falls police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto and telling him there was trouble at the intersection of 18th Street and Niagara Avenue.
“The chief called me and he said the situation had to be addressed,” Falls police Capt. Dave LeGault said. “It was all quality of life stuff, guys dealing drugs, shooting dice, congregating on the corners and just making life hard for the folks who live there.”
LeGault said things were so bad there that some folks in the community “didn’t want to drive down the street because they were afraid of what was going on there.”
Coupled with recent reports of violence, including a shooting, in that area, investigators decided to launch a sweep on Wednesday and Thursday. They found the situation as bad as the community leaders had claimed.
“There were all kinds of people hanging out there and blocking the sidewalks and streets,” LeGault said. “As many as 10 to 25 people hanging in front of the corner store.”
Once narcotics detectives positioned themselves in the area, they didn’t have to wait long to act. Almost immediately, they saw a familiar face, Jonathan Bersani, driving through the neighborhood.
“That guy is just ridiculous,” LeGault said, “We knew he was bringing crack (cocaine) into the area.”
Bersani was out of jail, on bail, for a previous arrest in April by Falls narcotics investigators. They had caught him selling crack from his car around 10th Street and Niagara Avenue.
He has also been charged in a case where he sold crack, on three occasions in November to an undercover informants for the Niagara County Drug Task Force.
“The detectives saw him acting suspiciously and then observed him make what appeared to be a drug sale,” LeGault said. “They tried to stop him, but he sped off.”
Bersani finally pulled over a few blocks away, and when he did, detectives saw him passing something to a passenger in the car. When they reached the vehicle, investigators found Mary Nagurney trying to stuff crack cocaine down her pants.
“With Bersani, he’s just gonna keep doing what he’s doing,” LeGault said. “And we’ll just keep arresting him. Hopefully, one of these days, he’ll get some jail time.”
Bersani, 21, 4715 Miller Road, was charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and speeding.
Nagurney, 64, 800 Niagara Ave., Apt. PH06, was charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
While Bersani was being taken into custody, another team of detectives watched as another car, moving suspiciously through the area, pulled over to the curb and a passenger jumped out. Once again, the investigators observed what appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug sale and they acted.
After stopping Ronnie Dixon Jr., they found him in possession of a quantity of pot.
Dixon, 35, 18 D Jordan Gardens, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.
Detectives wrapped up their sweep a short distance from the intersection, in the 1800 block of South Avenue, where they came across a dice game in front of a one-time homicide scene.
“The detectives observed four individuals shooting dice and when they approached them, they saw them dropping (baggies containing) crack and marijuana all around,” LeGault said.
Jaerode Akeem Seright, 18, 1861 Cleveland Ave., Apt. 1 and Kairon Gabby, 18, 1812 Michigan Ave., were each charged with loitering for the purpose of gambling and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Darrell Belton, 16, 1666 South Ave., was charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and loitering for the purpose of gambling.
Johnny Hilson, 20, 1814 Willow Ave., was charged with loitering for the purpose of gambling and resisting arrest for fight with detectives as they took him into custody.7 Number of arrests made by Falls police during a recent sweep of the 18th Street and Niagara Avenue area.