By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A Falls man, who pleaded guilty to trying to rip-off a drug dealer while the dealer’s apartment was being raided by narcotics investigators got a break in Niagara County Court on Thursday.
Michael Ramos, who has tattoo on his chest that reads “(Expletive) the Police”, told County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III he regretted what he had done.
“I’m remorseful for my inappropriate and irresponsible conduct,” Ramos said.
His defense attorney, Robert Viola, said his client has the potential to do better.
“He is a young man,” Viola said. “He hasn’t had the greatest lot in life, but I think he is a young man with potential. He take responsibility for what he did.”
Murphy said he believed Viola was correct.
“I don’t usually make commitments (on sentences) in cases like this,” Murphy said. “But I was impressed by the letters from your friends and family and the letters I received from you. I’m going to follow through on my commitment. I believe you can change your life.”
The judge sentenced Ramos to a state prison term of 2 1/2 years for his guilty plea to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon during his encounter with the narcotics detectives. Murphy tacked on an additional 2 1/2 year term for Ramos’ guilty plea to attempted second-degree burglary in an unrelated case.
The sentences will run consecutively.
Ramos and, his codefendant Michael Loverdi, were caught packing pistols when they showed up at the door of a Third Street drug dealer on April 26, 2012. What they didn’t know was that Falls narcotics detectives were already at the dealer’s apartment, 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.
Loverdi has pleaded guilty to a single count of attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Murphy has said he will sentence him to no more than 7 years in prison.