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City Water Board Executive Charged With Assault on Wife

County Legislator Kathryn Lance is victim

By Mike Hudson

Niagara County Legislator Kathryn Lance.
The Lance family
Roger Lance, director of administrative services for the Niagara Falls Water Board, was arrested on assault charges by Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies last Wednesday following a domestic incident that sent his wife, County Legislator Kathryn Lance, to the hospital.

A decorated Army veteran who worked closely with native forces in Afghanistan combating terrorism, Lance retired from the military as a major last year before taking the position with the Water Board.

His wife, a second-year legislator whose Wheatfield district includes the industrial and commercial areas along Niagara Falls Boulevard, serves as chairwoman of the Legislature’ Economic Development Committee.

The incident occurred at the couple’s Wheatfield home at 47 Winbert Drive shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday, police said. The couple’s teenage daughter, Meredith, was present at the time, which caused officials from the county’s Child Protective Services unit to become involved in the case.

This is the second arrest in just over a year for the Water Board executive. On Aug. 26, 2012, he was busted by North Tonawanda cops following an altercation outside Dwyer’s Irish Pub on Webster Street.

Police said Lance became involved in an altercation with several individuals, claiming that one of them made a lewd remark about his older daughter, who was with him at the tavern.

Witnesses said it was Lance who started the fracas, although he came out on the losing end of the fight.

Lance’s appointment to the $70,000-a-year Water Board position late last year stirred controversy after board member and former county Legislator Renae Kimble publicly described the job as a “political patronage” position.

"They went through a lot to get this man ramrodded into this position and I really, really resent that," Kimble said.

Kimble said she was told other water board members were "lobbied" by attorney Henry Wojtaszek - the former Niagara County Republican chairman and ally of state Sen. George Maziarz -- to cast their votes for Lance.

"He was the least qualified of all the candidates for the position, and that's what bothered me," Kimble said.

For his part, Maziarz said he had nothing to do with Lance’s appointment and added that domestic violence is unacceptable regardless of circumstances.

“It’s an unfortunate situation for the family,” he said. “But domestic violence can’t be tolerated under any circumstance.”

Sources close to the family told the Niagara Falls Reporter they believe Lance is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experiences in Afghanistan, where he commanded elements of that country’s army in the battlefield.

He was involved in special operations, leading a team of 10 Americans and 535 Afghans at Khar Khot, a former Taliban stronghold and the scene of much bloody combat.

He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service medal, the National Defense medal, the Army Commendation medal, and the Army Achievement medal for his service.

Kathryn Lance, a breast cancer survivor, was treated and released for her injuries at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.

Her freshman term as a legislator has been hallmarked by attention to economic development, breast cancer awareness, and the never ending struggle to keep the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from being shut down by the federal government.

Despite the seriousness of the violent incident, no report was made available to the media by the Sheriff’s Department.

According to Undersheriff Michael Felicetti, an arrest warrant was issued for Lance and he turned himself in. He was released on his own recognizance following an arraignment, Felicetti said.

Asked why there was no police report made available, Felicetti said department policy dictates that domestic violence incidents not be publicized in order to protect the victims.

"It is a domestic, but we certainly wouldn't share the details," Felicetti said.

Friends of the couple say they have separated, with Mrs. Lance staying in the family home.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

SEP 24, 2013