Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — The owner of a well-known Pine Avenue buy-and-sell shop will face up to five years in prison after his guilty pleas to drug and stolen property charges.
Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas made no commitment on a possible sentence as she accepted a plea deal between prosecutors and Ruben Longoria. His defense attorney, James Faso, said he was hopeful his client could avoid time behind bars.
"We understand the (prosecution) will not seek a jail sentence," Faso told Farkas just prior to the plea proceeding on Wednesday morning.
Though Longoria has a prior felony conviction on his rap sheet, which would ordinarily subject him to a longer sentence, Faso said the the crime occurred "way outside 10 years ago" and should not factor into Farkas' determination.
The prominent defense attorney admitted to the judge the plea deal made sense for his client.
"Your honor, there was a search warrant (in the drug case)." Faso said, "and the evidence against him (in the stolen property case) is substantial."
Longoria, 57, 2008 Pine Ave., Apt. 2, was accused of making two sales of prescription pain killers to a confidential informant working for the Niagara County Drug Task in November 2012. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance in that case.
He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and agreed to restitution of up to $2,000 in connection with an incident at his business, El Casino Buy & Sell, in October 2011.
The owner of a Falls construction company told police he was driving by El Casino Buy & Sell when he spotted heavy construction equipment, for sale, sitting on the front lawn. When he stopped and took a closer look at the equipment, the businessman discovered it was a hammer lauler/breaker, gas post digger and Lincoln mig welder that had been stolen from his company’s storage shed in July 2010.
The shed was entered after someone broke a padlock off. The heavy equipment and other items were then taken.
The business owner said he went inside and told Longoria that the equipment he was trying to sell was stolen. Longoria told the victim to “go get proof and bring it back.”
The victim told investigators that when he returned to El Casino the next day, with the proof of ownership Longoria requested, the equipment was gone.
Longoria told the victim “he left the (equipment) out front” and didn’t know what had happened to it."