LOCKPORT – Filippo Inglima, the former owner of restaurants in Buffalo and Lewiston who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a teenage girl, is likely to be deported to Italy after a Niagara County judge refused his request to withdraw his plea.
Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas on Thursday said no to the request from Inglima’s lawyer, Andrew C. LoTempio, who was hired after Inglima entered the plea March 18 while being represented by Mark D. Grossman.
LoTempio had argued that Inglima, who he said is illiterate both in Italian and English, isn’t fluent enough in English to understand that his admission to second-degree sexual abuse would earn him automatic deportation.
“Any sex crime, you’re out,” LoTempio told reporters.
He said Inglima knew there was a chance of being deported but didn’t know it was mandatory.
Summarizing Farkas’ ruling, LoTempio said, “Unless he’s willing to swear an affidavit that he didn’t know the exact ramifications, I’m not meeting my burden (of proof).”
LoTempio said he thinks Inglima’s literacy problems pose the risk that he might swear to something false, which could be another crime.
Inglima was charged with molesting a girl in his home when she was 13 years old in July 2004. Other incidents occurred in July 2005 and a final one when the victim was 20 in July 2011 in Villella’s Restaurant in Niagara Falls, where Inglima was working.
Inglima, 46, of Thornwood Drive, Wheatfield, already had other legal problems when the sex charges cropped up last year.
He was among 24 people named in a narcotics indictment obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2009. That case remains open, with Inglima’s next court date Aug. 9 in federal court.
The Italian citizen is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, marijuana and Ecstasy; conspiracy to import marijuana; distribution of marijuana; and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Inglima is free on $2,500 bail in the sex case and on a $500,000 bail bond, obtained by using his house as collateral, in the drug case.
He formerly owned the Villa Fortunata in Lewiston and Filippo’s on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo.