B U F F A L O N E W S www.buffalonews.com
Ryan G. Warme used his power as a Niagara Falls police officer to torment two women and trafficked cocaine, sometimes while on duty, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.
The 27-year-old Grand Island native was arrested Tuesday night by Niagara Falls police and federal agents. He pleaded not guilty this afternoon during a court appearance before Magistrate Judge Hugh Scott.
If found guilty, Warme could face the death penalty, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Bruce said during the proceeding.
Scott ordered Warme held for a detention hearing scheduled for Dec. 15 after Bruce said that prosecutors consider the three-year police veteran a threat to the community and potential witnesses in the case.
According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Warme:
--Forced a woman to perform oral sex on him while he was on duty on Sept. 24, 2007. It happened after he arrived at her apartment when she called police to file a complaint against an ex-boyfriend.
--Raped two women, including an October 2006 incident in which he entered the woman's apartment while she was sleeping. After the attack, she told investigators she saw him walk toward a marked police car.
--Threatened one of the women after an attack, saying if she ever told anyone about what happened he would take her to the Indian reservation and shoot her.
Investigators believe Warme also bought and trafficked cocaine, including buying the drug about five times while in uniform.
The federal charges brought against Warme allege he committed civil rights violations against the women and conspired in narcotics.
Warme, whose father is a retired Niagara Falls police captain and whose younger brother, Scott, is also a Falls cop, lives on Ninth Street in the Falls.
Warme will appear in court this afternoon after spending the night in custody.
"These are very disturbing charges, involving the misuse of an officer's police powers," U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn said. "It started with an internal investigation by the Niagara Falls police, with federal agents joining the investigation. These are federal charges."
Investigators learned that at one point, Warme was purchasing cocaine from drug dealers in Niagara Falls "two to five times a week," Flynn said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce accused Warme of holding his hand on his police firearm while forcing one of the women to commit sodomy on him. Authorities said Warme forced the woman to commit the sex act after he was called to her apartment last year to investigate an allegation that a former boyfriend abused her.
The woman who made the allegation knew Warme and had a previous relationship with him, authorities alleged.
A second woman alleged that Warme raped her last year.
According to Flynn, federal agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration worked with Niagara Falls police for months on the investigation.
Flynn commended Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John R. Chella for opening the investigation and seeking the assistance of federal agents and prosecutors. "It is never easy for any police chief to pursue charges against one of his own officers," he said.