The defense attorney for Ricky M. Allen Sr. says his client is a community-minded citizen who joined a police reorganization committee because he sincerely wants to help the City of Buffalo.
Despite allegations made by federal prosecutors and drug-enforcement agents, Allen, 54, was not dealing in drugs with the Afro Dogs biker club or anyone else, said Allen's attorney, Thomas J. Eoannou.
"[Allen] is a good family man who has no criminal record of any kind -- even an arrest -- before this. He has never been in trouble in his life," Eoannou told The Buffalo News after making his first appearance in the case Tuesday.
"Based on what we know, he has never sold drugs, taken drugs or profited from drug sales. At the very worst, he allowed someone he trusted to use his basement, allegedly to store drugs."
Eoannou said he understands that Allen has admitted to federal agents that he allowed a co-defendant -- John C. Smith, president of the Buffalo Afro Dogs -- to use his basement, but he said Allen never handled drugs himself.
"This man is not a major player," Eoannou told U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott during a bail hearing.
Allen, who was interim chairman of the Buffalo Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization, was arrested early Thursday after a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The U.S. Attorney's Office charged Allen, of Roosevelt Avenue, with felony counts of conspiracy, drug distribution, maintaining a facility to store and distribute drugs, using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking and obstruction of justice. Allen, who is married and has three children, pleaded not guilty. He is being detained while awaiting trial.
During a court appearance Tuesday, Eoannou told Scott that family members and friends can raise about $200,000 in property and security bonds if Allen can be released on bail.
Scott refused to immediately release Allen on bail but said he would consider home confinement and will meet with lawyers on the case again Friday.
Prosecutor Thomas S. Duszkiewicz asked the judge not to release Allen on bail, calling him a danger to the community and a risk to flee from the region to avoid prosecution.
According to federal agents, Allen let his home be used as a "stash house" where narcotics traffickers associated with the Afro Dogs stored their drugs.
Federal agents also accuse Allen of using his position in the police reorganization commission to obtain inside information about Buffalo police investigations and, in one alleged incident, to tip Smith about a drug crackdown last month.
Allen is a "community activist" who never misused his position with the police commission, Eoannou told The News, adding "He got onto that commission because he sincerely wants to help the city."
Eoannou said Allen is a retiree who worked for Moog in East Aurora for 36 years and also receives a disability pension through Social Security.
The lawyer said Allen suffers from a variety of ailments, including back pain that requires him to take hydrocodone and 10 injections a day.
Any allegation that Allen is a major drug dealer is a "huge exaggeration," Eoannou said, noting that when police and federal agents raided Allen's home last week, they found "a very small amount" of cocaine residue in the basement allegedly used by Smith. DEA agents said they also found a rifle, a shotgun and scales like those that dealers use to weigh cocaine.
"He lives with his family, a very humble existence," Eoannou said. "The question of this case is going to be, 'What was his very limited involvement, if any, based on some old friendships?' "
Allen, Smith and 10 others were arrested in the drug bust last week.