Rafidi to remain jailed as case proceeds

By Peter H. Milliken



U.S. Magistrate George J. Limbert on Tuesday ordered that George Rafidi, 60, of Lordstown, owner of the Breaden Market on Youngstown’s South Side, remain jailed without bond pending further proceedings in a case where Rafidi is charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding a federal officer.

“I feel he is a danger to the community,” Limbert said before ordering that Rafidi remain detained and that he be bound over to a federal grand jury. Limbert also said he found the authorities had probable cause to arrest Rafidi.

Rafidi pointed a .357-caliber revolver twice at law- enforcement officers before Lordstown Detective Christopher Bordonaro fired several shots at Rafidi, according to Daniel K. DeVille, a deputy U.S. Marshal.

Rafidi retreated into his Pleasant Valley Drive home before emerging and surrendering a minute or two later, DeVille testified during the 45-minute detention hearing.

The 1:10 p.m. Oct. 8 confrontation occurred as federal agents of the Marshal’s Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Department of Agriculture served a search warrant at Rafidi’s residence in connection with a food-stamp- fraud investigation, DeVille testified.

Rafidi, awakened by agents knocking on his door, was not hit by the gunfire, but a USDA agent jumped off Rafidi’s porch and injured his shoulder. Nobody else was hurt in the confrontation, according to an affidavit DeVille filed with the court.

Rafidi’s lawyer, Dennis A. DiMartino, acknowledged that his client was armed when he answered the door, but said his client had suffered a hearing loss as a result of a stroke.

“I don’t think George Rafidi knew who was at his door,” when he was awakened, DiMartino said, adding that Rafidi resides in a semi-rural area that has experienced home invasions.

DiMartino urged the magistrate to release Rafidi from Mahoning County jail on bond and on electronically monitored house arrest because of Rafidi’s multiple health problems.

DiMartino also said Rafidi is a lifelong area resident with a large extended family, which was well-represented in the courtroom.

However, David M. Toepfer, the Youngstown-based assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, said: “I don’t think it’s a credible argument to say he didn’t know who was at the front door.”

Toepfer also said: “The very act of pointing a weapon at someone is assault under federal law. ... Anyone who points a gun at law-enforcement officers is certainly a danger to the community.”

DeVille testified that all of the 10 law-enforcement officers present for the execution of the search warrant were either uniformed or wearing large identifying wording on their clothing. He also said there were marked Lordstown police cruisers at the scene.

DeVille said officers recovered a gun with six unfired rounds in Rafidi’s residence, which matched the “big silver revolver” they saw at the door.

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