Niagara Gazette

April 2, 2013

Well-known chef and restauranteur has drug conspiracy plea postponed

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — A prominent local chef and restauranteur, who has already pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of a teenager, is still stalling on a plea offer from federal prosecutors in a drug conspiracy case.

Filippo Inglima had been expected to pled guilty to charges in the federal case on Monday. However, a plea hearing in the case was adjourned for another month. 

Inglima, 46, 2825 Thornwood Road, Wheatfield, his business partner in a North Buffalo restaurant and 22 other individuals were indicted in November 2009 on charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 500 grams of so-called "club drugs" like Ecstacy.

Sources have told the Gazette the federal plea offer in the international drug smuggling case could leave Inglima facing up to a decade in federal prison.

Inglima also faces a sentence of up to one year in the Niagara County jail for his guilty plea, in March, to a single count of second-degree sexual abuse. That charge stemmed from a case that dates back to July 2004.

The chef and owner of popular Italian restaurants in Lewiston, Buffalo and the Falls, was accused of "sexually touching" and having "sexual contact" with a then 14-year-old girl beginning in July 2004 and continuing that contact until July 2005. Prosecutors said the contact occurred on six occasions when the victim was at Inglima's Wheatfield home.

He was also charged with sexually abusing the same victim, now 21, while she worked at a South End restaurant in the Falls in July 2011.

The victim's father told the Gazette that his daughter "hung out" at Inglima's Lewiston restaurant, where her siblings were working, in 2004 and 2005. During that time, the victim became friends with Inglima's children and would visit them at their Wheatfield home.

A Niagara County grand jury indicted Inglima on four counts of first-degree sexual abuse, one count of second-degree sexual abuse, three counts of third-degree sexual abuse and a single count of endangering the welfare of a child in November.

He is currently free on $500,000 bail, posted in connection with his federal drug case, and will be sentenced in Niagara County Court on July 18.

Inglima will also have to register as a sex offender as a result of his guilty plea on the sex abuse charge. That registration is likely to lead to the Sicilian citizen's deportation.