The home of a key witness in the Afro Dogs drug trial was raked with gunshots on the eve of his testimony this week, and he is now guarded by federal agents at an undisclosed location.
Ricky M. Allen Sr. was at his Roosevelt Avenue home Sunday night when 10 to 12 shots were fired into the house in what police believe was an attack tied to his testimony in the drug case against several members of the motorcycle club.
Allen, who agreed to cooperate with federal authorities as part of a plea agreement last month, testified as planned Monday in the case.
“They shot from the park,” Allen said of the public park that borders his home. “They were intent on killing us.”
Allen, who is awaiting sentencing after his own guilty plea in the case, told The Buffalo News that he and his wife were in bed when the shooting began between 10:30 and 11 p.m. Sunday.
His 11-year-old son also was at home, but no one was hurt, he said.
One of the bullets, according to Allen, shattered the window in his bedroom, tore a hole in the shirt he intended to wear to court Monday and traveled through the house before striking the house next door.
“Our biggest concern is the safety of Mr. Allen and his family,” said Dale M. Kasprzyk, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Buffalo, on Tuesday. “We have moved him and his family to an undisclosed location, and he is being guarded by agents and other personnel from the DEA.”
Allen, a former Police Department adviser accused of passing along inside information about drug investigations, is considered a key witness in the prosecution of the Afro Dog case.
The five remaining defendants, each charged with taking part in a conspiracy to sell cocaine, are on trial before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.
Kasprzyk said his office is working with the Buffalo Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the search for potential suspects.
“Cases like these are very rare, and we take them very seriously,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda. “We are working diligently with our federal partners to bring these individuals to justice.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Duszkiewicz, the lead prosecutor in the Afro Dogs case, declined to comment on the shooting, but he has asked Arcara to rescind the bail for one of the defendants, Dewey Taylor, because of other alleged instances of witness tampering.
The other defendants are William Szymanski, Van Miller, Anthony Burley and Dale Lockwood, brother of Deputy Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood.
The case, which dates back two years, stems from a DEA raid that targeted members of the Afro Dogs motorcycle club in Buffalo.
As part of the 2011 raid, DEA agents hit Allen’s home on Roosevelt, the Afro Dogs clubhouse on Genesee Street and Lockwood’s home on LaSalle Avenue. They seized several weapons and a small amount of cocaine.
Federal prosecutors later charged them and seven others with taking part in a large-scale cocaine ring and identified each as officers, members or associates of the Buffalo Afro Dogs.
The case also garnered headlines because of Allen’s involvement in the case.
At the time of his arrest, Allen was interim chairman of the Buffalo Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization. He was portrayed by police as an insider who abused his advisory position with the department.
Police said Allen passed inside information about police investigations to John C. Smith, a longtime friend and the man charged with heading the drug ring.
They also say Allen allowed Smith to store cocaine in Allen’s home.
Allen, who pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and now faces up to 46 months in federal prison, insists his involvement with Smith, who also pleaded guilty last month, started out as a well-intentioned effort to help his friend of 28 years.
“They’re trying to make me a villain,” Allen told The News on Tuesday. “I testified three days in a row. It was the right thing to do.”
Allen, 56, admitted his involvement with drug dealing as part of a plea deal that details three separate incidents of Allen’s helping Smith sell cocaine. Duszkiewicz said there were other such incidents.
Married with three children, Allen spent 35 years as a manager at Moog before becoming disabled through an injury.
There’s no mention in Allen’s plea agreement of his passing inside information to Smith, but the allegation was spelled out in the original complaint against him.
At the time, prosecutors said Derenda had informed the police commission at a meeting in February 2011 that “something big” was planned for the following week.
Allen, according to court papers, made a call to Smith the next day and had the following conversation with him:
“Something big going down next week, man,” he told Smith. “I have to talk to you about it.”
“Yeah, all right,” Smith responded.
A few weeks later, federal agents arrested Allen, Smith and the others.