Niagara Gazette

February 18, 2014

Longoria back in city court|El Casino Buy and Sell owner faces charge of operating without a license.

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The well-known owner of a Pine Avenue buy and sell store is in trouble with the law again.

Ruben Longoria, already twice convicted of trafficking in stolen property and once with dealing drugs, will be arraigned in Falls City Court later today on charges he's been doing business for at least two years without a license.

Longoria, 57, 2008 Pine Ave., Apt. 2, is charged with five city code violations of conducting a business without a second-hand dealer license.

Just over two weeks ago, 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 in November. 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 had 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 to shutter Longoria's 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 reportedly told police that Longoria didn't have a second-hand dealer license and hadn't had one since after his 2011 conviction on a stolen property charge.

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. 

In that case, detectives charged Longoria with a felony stolen property count and he eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

When Longoria's, then current, second-hand dealer license come up for renewal in 2012, police opposed it. The license expired, but Longoria kept on doing business out of his Pine Avenue store front.

In November 2012, Longoria made two sales of prescription pain killers to a confidential informant working for the Niagara County Drug Task. Two months later, while investigating a burglary in the 2200 block of LaSalle Avenue, Falls Police detectives raided El Casino and found a treasure trove of property taken in that break-in.

A police source said the was so much stolen property take from the LaSalle Avenue burglary, "it would have taken (a truck) to deliver it."

Investigators also recovered a police radio, taken from the official car of the then Administrative Capt. John DeMarco in 2012, during that raid. Those recoveries led to Longoria's most recent stolen property conviction.