By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — Once a Niagara County Court judge ruled that Falls police had legally seized handguns from Michael Loverdi and Michael Ramos, a plea deal for the pair was inevitable.
Attorneys for both men said they recommended their clients agree to offers from prosecutors on weapons possession charges because the evidence against them at a trial would have been insurmountable.
On Friday, Loverdi pleaded guilty to a single count of attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Ramos had previously pleaded guilty to counts of attempted second-degree burglary and attempted second-degree possession of a weapon.
Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III agreed to sentence Ramos to a five-year prison term. The judge said he would sentence Loverdi to no more than seven years behind bars.
The pair were caught packing pistols when they showed up at the door of a Third Street drug dealer on April 26. What they didn't know was that Falls narcotics detectives were already at the dealer's apartment that day, executing a search warrant.
After knocking on the apartment door, Ramos and Loverdi encountered then-Narcotics Division Lt. Bryan DalPorto at the door.
“I looked out the peep hole and there were two guys there. One was covering his face with a baseball cap and the other had his hoodie up over his head,” DalPorto said at the time. “You could tell they were up to no good.”
As the two men went to walk away, DalPorto went to stop them. As he did, he noticed that both Ramos and Loverdi had their hands in their pockets and appeared to be holding on to something. Veteran Narcotics Detective John Galie, who had been searching the apartment, heard DalPorto talking and went to make sure there were “no problems.”
“As soon as I walked out there, I just had this sense that something was wrong,” Galie said. “I could just tell. The one guy (Ramos) had his hands in his pockets and he refused to take them out.”
Galie repeatedly told Ramos, to get his hands out of his pockets. Instead, Ramos began to turn away from Galie and the detective saw him begin to take something out of his waistband.
“I reached in to grab his hands and I felt a gun,” Galie said.
As Galie struggled with Ramos for control of the weapon, DalPorto yelled at Loverdi, to get his hands out of his pockets as well. When Loverdi refused to show his hands, DalPorto took him to the floor and as he struggled to move the suspect’s hands from underneath him, he felt a handgun in his pocket.
Ramos had a loaded snub-noised .38-caliber handgun. Loverdi was packing a loaded .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
Both guns had been stolen in a burglary in the Falls.
DalPorto and Galie believed Ramos and Loverdi had come to the apartment to conduct a home invasion-style robbery of the drug dealer there.
Defense attorneys had argued that police had no legal right to question their clients, search them or seize their guns. Murphy disagreed, saying DalPorto and Galie acted lawfully.
Both Ramos and Loverdi have lengthy and violent criminal records. Ramos, who has a tattoo that reads “(Expletive) the Police” across his chest, was arrested and charged last year after police raided his home seized a half dozen stolen rifles.