NYC Judge Leticia Ramirez Releases Man Caught With Gun And Ammunition

A New York judge has released a man allegedly caught with a rifle and hundreds of ammunition in the Bronx — the same day she allowed a murder suspect back onto the streets on a bail of just $5,000, The Post has learned.

Judge Leticia Ramirez — who received an ethical reprimand in 2017 for using her position to try to get her son out of prison — released Matthew Velardo under surveillance on Sunday, against the request of prosecutors, who wanted to hold him on bail, said officials. .

Velardo, 22, was beaten with criminal gun charges after being arrested with a Tires American Tactical .22 rifle, an expanded magazine and 500 rounds of ammunition in the trunk of his car, according to court records.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s Office had requested that he be held on $50,000 bail, $150,000 bail or $150,000 secured bond, a spokesman said.

But Ramirez ignored that request, and another request from prosecutors on Sunday that she keep an accused killer behind bars without bail.

Vernon Gowdy, 54, a smoke shop employee, was charged with fatally stabbing a man during a brawl outside the shop on Saturday.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s Office had requested that Matthew Velardo be held on $50,000 bail.
Robert Miller

The Bronx DA’s Office wanted him remanded in custody, but Ramirez set Gowdy’s bail at $5,000 during his arraignment on charges of murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. He was released later Sunday after paying the amount, according to officials and prison records.

Gowdy worked at Magic 7 Smoke Shop on Fordham Road and reportedly got into a fight that broke out when a store manager bumped into a 59-year-old man who police said was walking by.

The man, Kenneth Fair, had considered the contact intentional and Gowdy put him in a stranglehold, pulled a knife and stabbed Fair once in the chest, authorities said.

Gowdy, a former city park employee, had a criminal record with 15 previous arrests and time in prison in the 1990s, sources said. He was accused of exposing himself to a Parks Department colleague in 2011, and was also arrested in the 1991 murder of Anna McCoy, but was not charged for lack of evidence.

Ramirez was elected a judge of the civil court in 2011 and was appointed acting judge of the Manhattan Supreme Court for a time and also served as an acting judge in the Brooklyn family court for four years.

She was placed before the city’s criminal court on Sunday, a state court spokesman said.

In 2017, a state ethics committee found she had abused her position — then as a Manhattan Supreme Court judge — when she wrote an appeals committee on behalf of her son Michael Tineo, who was sentenced to 20 years to life for fatally shooting a guy on Long Island.

Judge Leticia Ramirez, who was elected a judge of the civil court but was assigned to the criminal court on Sunday, has released Matthew Velardo under supervision at the request of prosecutors.
Judge Leticia Ramirez released Matthew Velardo under surveillance at the request of prosecutors.
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The state’s Judicial Conduct Commission also found that Ramirez had written a letter about officially lobbied for court stationery for a childhood friend battling gambling charges.

Ramirez admitted to committing misconduct and was punished only with a public admonition, according to the ruling.

Her son is still incarcerated in Sing Sing Prison and is eligible for parole in 2024, according to state prison data.

Police sources were outraged that the judge calmly looked at Velardo and Gowdy, with a Bronx cop complaining, “What does it take to keep someone in jail?”

“We keep arresting criminals and they keep getting released,” the officer told The Post.

An officer called on Mayor Eric Adams to say what he thinks about “allowing murderers and people with 500 ammunition back on the street”.

“This is crazy,” said another officer. “You can’t keep criminals out on the streets to victimize innocent people.”

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the State Office of Court Administration, defended the judge’s decisions in the Velardo and Gowdy cases, saying bail in New York is “the sole guarantee” that the accused will return to court.

“With the recent criminal justice reform laws, a judge must consider the least restrictive form of bail to ensure the return of the suspects,” Chalfen said. “In both cases, apparently that’s exactly what the judge did…as required by law.”

He said it is “common practice” to assign judges to courts when necessary, explaining why Ramirez was brought before the criminal court that day.

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