Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 20, 2010

Details emerge in Paul Harris case

NIAGARA FALLS — BUFFALO — Former Falls High School basketball star Paul Harris may have gotten a substantial break in a plea deal with Erie County prosecutors on Wednesday.

Harris pleaded guilty to a single count of attempted second-degree menacing in Buffalo City Court. He had faced charges of second-degree menacing, second-degree unlawful imprisonment and unlawful possession of marijuana.

A Buffalo police spokesman tells the Gazette that Harris was accused of “holding a female against her will at gunpoint and threatening to harm and kill her.”

The incident took place in a home on Ruspin Avenue on Jan. 2 in the city’s Kensington-Bailey neighborhood.

Harris reportedly held the woman in her bedroom, before fleeing from the scene. The car he left in was later found in front of a home on East Parade Street on Buffalo’s East Side and Harris was taken into custody there.

Buffalo police said no weapon was recovered at the East Parade home, but Harris did have a small quantity of marijuana in his possession at the time of his arrest.

As part of his plea deal, the unlawful imprisonment and marijuana possession charges were dropped.

Harris’ victim declined to discuss the case outside of court, after his plea, telling a reporter, “You’ll put it in the paper. I don’t really want to talk about it.”

Harris’ defense attorney, Alan Roscetti, claimed the incident involved the taking of a set of keys.

“He left (the victim’s) house with a set of keys and when he came back, the police were there,” Roscetti said.

Roscetti did not return a call on Friday seeking comment on the police report.

Had Harris been convicted on the original charges in the case, he could have faced up to a year in jail along with a fine and probation.

The one-time local basketball star, who played three years at Syracuse University and has had a couple of NBA tryouts, faced 15 days in jail, a $500 fine and one year of probation as a result of his plea.

However, Buffalo City Court Judge Kevin Keane sentenced Harris to a conditional discharge, ordering him to “lead a law-abiding life and continue to make child support payments” to his victim.

The woman did say she was satisfied with the resolution of the case. Roscetti said he, too, was happy to settle the case with a plea deal.

“I’ll take a conditional discharge,” he said.

Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer

at 282-2311, ext. 2252.

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