N  I  A  G  A  R  A       G  A  Z  E  T  T  E      niagara-gazette.com

April 23, 2010

Warme pleads, facing 10 years in prison

By Rick Pfeiffer Niagara Gazette

NIAGARA FALLS — In the end, going to trial was “just too risky.”

Suspended Falls Police Officer Ryan Warme said that to his parents and brother as U.S. Marshals led him away after he pleaded guilty to federal drug, gun and civil rights sex crimes on Thursday afternoon.

Wearing a gray-and-white-striped prison jumpsuit and orange sneakers, Warme showed little emotion during the 52-minute proceeding in U.S. District Court.

As he left the courtroom, he told his family, “I appreciate you being here.”

When he entered court, Warme quickly signed a 16-page plea agreement that laid out the case against him on three of nine remaining counts in an 11-count indictment that originally accused him of violating the civil rights of three women by sexually assaulting or abusing them, using his position as a police officer to extort sexual favors from a Falls prostitute, conspiring to distribute both powdered and crack cocaine, committing federal firearms offenses, failing to arrest a known felon who was in possession of a weapon and failing to provide honest services to the citizens of Niagara Falls.

Judge Richard Arcara had previously dismissed two of the charges Warme faced. The judge tossed the charge that Warme had extorted sexual favors from a prostitute and threw out the honest services charge, calling it “deficient.”

The plea agreement called for Warme to admit to “inappropriately groping” a woman during a traffic stop, conspiring with a Falls drug dealer to distribute cocaine and buying cocaine while he was on duty as a police officer.

Yet even while pleading guilty, Warme remained somewhat defiant.

Standing stoically before Arcara, Warme admitted the civil rights violation involving the woman at the traffic stop.

“Is that true? Is that what happened?” Arcara asked.

“Yes your honor,” Warme replied.

However, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Bruce detailed the incident, telling Arcara that Warme “initiated a normal “pat down, however, instead of stopping once the ‘pat down’ was finished, the defendant proceeded to touch victim two’s breasts, buttocks and genital area without (her) consent,” Warme shook his head no.

Before entering his guilty pleas, Arcara warned Warme, “You may not like what (your defense lawyers) told you, but they’re not here to make you feel good. They are here to be your legal advisers.”

While the maximum penalties Warme faces are life imprisonment and a $2 million fine, the plea agreement indicates federal sentencing guidelines place his probable minimum sentence somewhere between 10 and 11 years.

Bruce also detailed how Warme on multiple occasions bought powdered and crack cocaine from a pair of notorious Falls drug dealers and then warned one of them when narcotics detectives were looking for him by alerting him to impending raids and what types of vehicles the investigators were using.

“He was a police officer charged with enforcing the narcotics laws,” Bruce said. “And he was breaking narcotics laws.”

In return for his guilty plea to the three charges, prosecutors said they would dropping the remaining six counts in the indictment against Warme.

Arcara is set to sentence Warme on Aug. 2.