Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A move by a prominent local chef and restauranteur to withdraw his plea of guilty to the sexual abuse of a teenager has failed.
In a brief comment from the bench, accompanied by a written decision given to the lawyers in the case, Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas rejected the request from Filippo Inglima to back out of a deal he agreed to with Niagara County prosecutors because he claimed he did not understand that the conviction, along with his expected guilty plea in a federal drug conspiracy case, could lead to his deportation.
"You can see by the decision," Farkas said. "that I'm not granting your request. We'll move to sentencing."
Inglima will return to court Sept. 3 and could face up to a year in jail.
Defense attorney Andrew LoTempio had argued that both Farkas and a federal magistrate judge were “obligated to advise (Inglima) of the (deportation) consequences” of pleading guilty to the sex crime.
LoTempio said the courts failed to explain those consequences until after Inglima had pleaded guilty a single count of second-degree sexual abuse. The charge stemmed from a case that dates back to July 2004.
Farkas said, in her decision, that the burden was on Inglima to prove he didn't understand the consequences of his plea.
"Unless he was willing to swear, in an affidavit, that he didn't know the implications of his plea, we haven't met the burden (of proof) to withdraw a plea," Lotempio said.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Zucco had shown Farkas a copy of a transcript from a federal court hearing, in October, weeks after Inglima’s arrest by local authorities, that included a discussion of the possibility of deportation if Inglima was convicted on sex crime charges.
LoTempio, who said his client is illiterate in both English and his native Italian, was confused by the legal terms that were being used.