June 20, 2008

Marijuana Found on Boy, 4, at Preschool

LOCKPORT -- Everyone -- except the parents -- was praised Thursday for the way they handled the case of a preschool boy found with marijuana in his sneaker.

The Lockport case bore little resemblance to a case at a YWCA day care facility a little over a year ago. The Buffalo case attracted national attention when a 5-year-old boy brought heroin to his school and passed it off to other children as "candy."

In that case, six children were evaluated at Women and Children's Hospital and the center was cited for 10 violations. Police never determined where that heroin came from.

But at the Niagara County Head Start Program at Grace Episcopal Church, a staff member noticed the boy walking strangely on Wednesday morning and told the boy to take off his sneaker when the boy said he was in pain.

Inside the sneaker, staff found a bag with several smaller bags of marijuana. Police were quickly called.

Both Lockport police and Niagara County Child Protective Services investigated, and by 4 p. m. Wednesday, the Niagara County Drug Task Force, armed with a search warrant, had entered the Washburn Street home of the boy's mother, Sherry Sanney, 27, and seized a small quantity of marijuana.

Sanney and Joshua Bryant, 21, of Harvest Ridge Way, were arrested at the apartment and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Each of them was released on $250 bail and is due back Monday in City Court, where they are ex-

pected to face further charges, task force Chief Mark Dreiss told The Buffalo News.

Dreiss said Thursday that members of the task force had received complaints about drug activity in the Washburn Street home and, after making several buys, executed a search warrant on June 6.

He said officers found several marijuana plants growing in plain sight in the living room, as well as a scale and unidentified tablets. Dreiss said additional charges of unlawful possession, unlawful growing of marijuana and misdemeanor criminal possession are expected to be lodged against Sanney and Bryant.

Acting Police Chief Michael Neithe said the day care center staff did everything right.

"The children were never in any danger, and the drugs were immediately confiscated," Neithe said.

Janeen Anderson, recently named the executive director of the Niagara County Head Start program, said there were two staff members, including one teacher, with the child when the marijuana was found.

Niagara County Child Protective Services is investigating the situation, said Anthony J. Restaino, the county's social services commissioner.

The 4-year-old and his younger brother have been placed with a relative, Restaino said.