Niagara Gazette

March 18, 2013

Chef takes plea deal in sex abuse case

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A prominent local chef and restauranteur has pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of a teenager in a case that dates back to July 2004.

Filippo Inglima is also reportedly on the verge of accepting a plea deal from federal prosecutors in an international drug smuggling case brought against him in 2009.

Inglima, 46, 2825 Thornwood Road, Wheatfield, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon in Niagara County Court to a single count of second-degree sexual abuse. He faces a sentence of up to one year in the Niagara County jail when he's sentenced on July 18.

He will also have to register as a sex offender. That registration is likely to lead to the Sicilian citizen's deportation.

"He's probably looking at deportation after he does his (jail) time," Assistant District Attorney Robert Zucco said. 

The lengthy wait for sentencing is to allow Inglima and his lawyer to settle a federal drug conspiracy case that has been pending against him. Inglima, 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.

At a hearing in U.S. District Court in Buffalo on Friday, federal prosecutors said they have offered a plea deal to Inglima. Judge Richard Arcara gave Inglima until April to decide if he wants to take the plea.

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

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.

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 confirmed that the six incidents that occurred during that time period took place at Inglima's Wheatfield home.

The indictment also charged that Inglima sexually abused 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.

Inglima is currently free on $500,000 bail, posted in connection with the federal drug case.

mug - NIA Inglima plea mug 031913 Filippo Inglima May be deported