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Father of boy killed in Buffalo house fire appears in City Court

The father of a seven-year-old boy who died in a house fire late last month appeared in Buffalo City Court Tuesday morning for a charge unrelated to the fire, but for which an order was in place that should have prevented him from being in the home on the night of the fire.

Joseph Conti's attorney filed a motion before Judge JaHarr Pridgen, seeking dismissal of a harassment count on the grounds his alleged actions on New Year's Eve were not to the level of criminal charges. Judge Pridgen reserved a decision until March 5 at 9:30 a.m. 

An order of protection has been in effect, though, since the incident. It was temporarily modified to allow Conti to attend the wake and funeral of his son, 7-year-old Anthony Conti, who died of smoke inhalation after flames broke out in the family's Benzinger Street home on the morning of January 29.

The investigation continues into the fatal fire. Buffalo Fire officials have not formally announced a cause, though numerous past news media reports suggest Joseph Conti may have admitted to a neighbor that it was started accidentally after lighting a cigarette with a blowtorch and then placing the device on a bed.

No charges have been filed in that fire. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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