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.”