Appellate court judges last week denied an appeal filed by a city man who was sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly dealing drugs out of a home where his fiancée and her three children were staying, according to court records.
Alberto Ruiz appealed his sentence after a superior court judge sentenced him to eight years in prison with four years parole ineligibility over his 31 criminal offenses. Ruiz was charged with “numerous drug and firearm offenses as well as child abuse.”
He was charged with being in possession of heroin and cocaine for distribution, “unlawful possession of a handgun,” “aggravated assault injuring a police officer,” “burglary, resisting arrest, and hindering apprehension,” and “auto theft.”
Most of the charges came from an August 6, 2009 incident when police busted him at his fiancée, Ms. Ramos’s apartment which he was using as drive-thru heroin, marijuana, and cocaine purchasing center. Court record does not provide a first name for Ramos.
Detectives Alonzo Bermudez and Ivette Otero set surveillance of the home observing drug transactions. “In a half-hour period, they observed two vehicles pull up to a Paterson residence,” reads the court documents. “Each time, the driver went to the front door and gave defendant currency. Each time, defendant went into the residence, returned with small objects, and gave them to the driver.”
A separate team of officers pulled over the drivers finding drugs in their vehicles. The detectives arrested Ruiz at the home. Officers noticed three children inside the home. An 18-year-old daughter of Ramos’s noticed the police at the home and volunteered information about her mother’s whereabouts.
Ramos allegedly gave officers consent to search the apartment. Police “found in the master bedroom [Ramos and Ruiz where sharing the room] a loaded handgun, twenty-five glassine envelopes of heroin, and four zip-lock baggies of cocaine,” reads court records.
Ramos has said she did not give officers consent to search her home. Instead, she alleges, the officers threatened to call Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) and separate her children from her, if she did not sign a consent form granting officers right to search.
Ruiz wanted the court to suppress the evidence obtained from the allegedly illegal search of Ramos’s apartment, but judges did not by Ruiz’s argument. “The officers’ credited testimony was sufficient to show Ramos knowingly and voluntarily consented to the search,” reads the appellate division decision.
Bail was posted and Ruiz got out of lockup. On March 3, 2010 Ruiz committed more criminal acts while on bail, “including drug offenses, evidence tampering, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault injuring a police officer.”
A few months later again on October 2, 2010, “burglary, resisting arrest, and hindering apprehension.” And then again a few months after on March 23, 2011, he committed more criminal acts “including auto theft, eluding, and resisting arrest.”
In January 2012, Ruiz reached a “global plea agreement” with the prosecutor which resulted in a number of the charges being dropped. The judge sentence Ruiz to serve in prison eight years for each of the offense, but concurrently. He would be eligible for parole after serving half of the term and free after eight years.
Ruiz’s appeal is almost entirely based on police officers having done an illegal search of his fiancée’s apartment. Ramos, the fiancée, claimed she could not read. However, in giving initial testimonial to the court in defense of Ruiz, Ramos referred to the form as a “consent to search.”
The appellate division concluded Ramos’s was being dishonest. “The trial court stated that Ramos was “a savvy and street-smart person” who “feigned ignorance when it suited her purpose.” The court found her testimony to be biased, self-serving, and frequently self-contradictory,” according to court record.
Ruiz’s appeal also stated that the sentence was excessive. One mitigating factor argued in Ruiz’s appeal is that his imprisonment causes great deal of hardship on his dependents, the three children and his fiancée Ramos.
“Ramos, now defendant’s wife, stated at sentencing that defendant was helping care for their new child who had a chronic illness, and that defendant is now working to support the family,” reads court records. Ruiz “stated that the child had developed asthma. However, the only documentation before the court showed that the child required no further treatment and was developing normally, and defendant [Ruiz] had been working for only five weeks despite being on bail for a year.”