United States Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., announced this afternoon that former Niagara Falls Police Officer Ryan Warme, age 28, pleaded guilty to three federal charges which will require that he serve at least ten years in prison. United States Attorney Hochul said the defendant admitted that while he was on duty he:
1. conspired to distribute in excess of five (5) grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine);
2. while purchasing and distributing cocaine, carried and possessed a Niagara Falls Police-issued pistol; and
3. deprived a woman of her civil rights by ordering a woman - who had been sitting in her parked car on a Niagara Falls Street - to first get out of her car, and thereafter inappropriately groping her.
United States Attorney Hochul stated that “The charges for which Warme stands convicted are extraordinarily serious - tipping off drug dealers, selling narcotics, and abusing the trust placed in him as a Niagara Falls Police officer. He sullied his badge, violated his oath, and harmed those he was sworn to protect. Our Office will not stand for this.”
Warme faces a mandatory sentence of at least five years on the cocaine conspiracy charge, a second mandatory and consecutive sentence of five (5) years on the firearms charge, and up to a year in jail on the civil rights charge. Two other civil rights charges will be dismissed as a result of these convictions.
During the course of the plea proceeding, Assistant United States Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, the lead prosecutor in the case, told United States District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara that in 2007, the defendant became a cocaine dealer, at time getting his cocaine while on duty, in uniform, armed with his NFPD-issued 40 caliber pistol and while using his marked Niagara Falls Police car.
AUSA Bruce further detailed to that in 2008, the defendant began providing yet another of his cocaine suppliers with the descriptions of NFPD undercover cars. On one occasion, the defendant warned narcotics traffickers about an impending NFPD search a few hours before the search took place, thus allowing the traffickers to remove all evidence of crack dealing from the Cedar Avenue drug house that was to be searched. This information allowed the individual who was supplying Warme with crack cocaine and who was wanted on a Niagara Falls City Court warrant, to elude officers looking for him and thus avoid arrest, and to continue his activities as a crack dealer.
AUSA Bruce further said that on July 27, 2007, the defendant pulled in behind a woman who was in a parked car with a male companion and ordered her out of her car. The defendant directed the woman to the rear of the car, and thereafter repeatedly groped her.
The plea was the culmination of an investigation on the part of detectives of the Internal Affairs and the Narcotics Enforcement Sections of the Niagara Falls Police Department under the direction of Superintendent of Police John Chella, by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of FBI Special Agent in Charge James H. Robertson, Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration under the direction of Resident Agent in Charles Tomazewski, and special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Francis Christiano.
Superintendent Chella stated “I am saddened by the actions of Ryan Warme, but I want to assure the public, and in particular the citizens of Niagara Falls, that Ryan Warme’s actions while a member of the Niagara Falls Police Department were committed by him alone. His actions are not reflective of the dedication, devotion, and commitment of each member of the Niagara Falls Police Department, whose primary mission is to ensure the safety of the citizens of Niagara Falls.”
United States Attorney Hochul said that his Office “will continue to vigilantly protect the rights of all citizens, including those most vulnerable members of society, and we will vigorously enforce the federal laws against all criminals - without regard to job title or position, race, or creed.” Hochul thanked the outstanding efforts of all involved in this investigation, including police, federal agencies, and members of the public who came forward as witnesses in this case.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2, 2010 at 12:30 p.m. EST, in Buffalo, N.Y., in front of U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.
April 22, 2010