Niagara Gazette

Courts

April 17, 2014

Deal in the works for Pine Avenue pawn shop owner

Niagara Gazette — Lawyers for the city and a Pine Avenue pawn shop owner are attempting to settle charges that accuse him of operating without a license. 

Ruben Longoria, the well-known owner of El Casino Buy and Sell, has pleaded not guilty to five city code violations of conducting a business without a second-hand dealer license. An attorney for Longoria, 57, 2008 Pine Ave., Apt. 2, is challenging those charges and has asked a Falls City Court judge to dismiss them.

However, Assistant City Corporation Counsel Christopher Mazur said he and Longoria's attorney are looking to resolve the case outside the courtroom, if possible.

Falls police have described Longoria's business as a hub for stolen property dealing in the city. Longoria has already been convicted twice of trafficking in stolen property out of his store and once with dealing drugs there. 

Police say they've been trying to shut Longoria's operation down. In 2012, they objected to his license renewal request because of the amount of stolen property that appeared to be passing through his business. 

In early February, Longoria was sentenced to five years of probation for his guilty plea to charges of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He had faced a possible five-year prison stay, but Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas gave him a probation sentence instead.

The pleas stemmed from a deal with prosecutors, who recommended the probation sentence in return for the plea.

In the aftermath of his sentencing, police said the convictions could be used to shutter El Casino Buy and Sell. Days later, the Gazette confirmed police and lawyers from the city Corporation Counsel’s office met to discuss pulling Longoria’s license to do business.

It was then, that city lawyers told police that Longoria didn’t have a second-hand dealer license and hadn’t had one since a 2011 stolen property conviction.

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