BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has indicted Philip A. Ruiz, 24, of Lockport, NY, on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, on September 3, 2014, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant on a vehicle in Lockport that they believe was used in two bank robberies on July 29, 2014 and August 19, 2014. During the search, they found a 12 gauge Mossberg pump action shotgun. The vehicle belongs to the defendant’s girlfriend but it was parked at Ruiz’s residence at the time the search warrant was executed.
Subsequent investigation determined that the defendant was on probation following a 2010 conviction for Attempted Burglary in the third degree and therefore was prevented from possessing firearms.
The defendant was arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy. Ruiz pleaded not guilty and is being held. The defendant is December 16, 2014.
The indictment is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the City of Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Chief William Strassburg, the Lockport Police Department, under the direction of Chief Lawrence Eggert, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Michael Cerretto, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas S. Higgins and the Federal bureau of Investigation.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.