NIAGARA FALLS - A Niagara Avenue man with a lengthy criminal history avoided serious prison time last year when he helped prosecutors with a murder case and set up a program to try to scare students and young inmates away from a life of crime - but it appears he didn't learn from his own lessons.
Michael C. Stewart, 45, is back in jail. He was arraigned in City Court Friday on felony charges of third-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and fourth-degree grand larceny, as well as misdemeanor charges of possession of burglary tools and resisting arrest. He was remanded without bail to Niagara County Jail.
City police responded to a burglary alarm activation just after 1:30 a.m. Friday at Fashion King on Portage Road. After a short pursuit, Stewart was found behind the Niagara Towers apartments with articles of clothing piled up in the doorway. Police said a rear wall and steel door at the business were heavily damaged in the break-in.
Stewart has been arrested more than 40 times in his nearly 30-year criminal history. He has 18 convictions, six which are felonies.
In August 2010, Stewart was allowed to plead guilty to attempted third-degree burglary after breaking into home on 20th Street on Feb. 22, 2009. He a break because his testimony as a jailhouse informant helped prosecutors convict Robert E. Johnson of murdering his wife in 2009.
Stewart also set up an "Alternatives to Aggression" program in the County Jail.
Due to his lengthy criminal history, Stewart could have been sentenced to life in prison as a repeat felony offender when he was sentenced in 2010. Instead was given consideration by Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas for his testimony and work in the jail, and received a sentence of to 1½ to three years in state prison.