Falls man sentenced to 5 years in federal prison on gun charge

Aug. 28—BUFFALO — A Falls man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for his guilty plea to a weapons charge stemming from a 2021 incident in the Falls.

U.S. District Court Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr. handed down the sentence on Friday to Lazarus R. Hayes, 34, for his plea to a charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. By law, the charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $250,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors said Falls Police Narcotics & Intelligence Division detectives and members of the Niagara County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant on Hayes' Pierce Avenue home on June 19, 2021. During the search, detectives found a bag that belonged to Hayes' co-defendant Gerald Harper.

Inside the bag, task force members found approximately 93 grams of cocaine, 9 grams of fentanyl, 26 grams of amphetamine, 245 milligrams of hydrocodone, and 720 milligrams of oxycodone. In Hayes' home, detectives seized approximately 8 grams of cocaine, 20 clonazepam tablets, a digital scale, two loaded firearms and $3,958 in cash.

Investigators said the cash was "profits from drug trafficking activities."

Harper has also been convicted and sentenced in connection with the case.