Marc Ringel is a free man. For now.
After serving nearly five years of a 10-year sentence for reckless endangerment, firearms and drug charges, Ringel, 57, was released from an upstate prison as the new year began after a New York state appellate court determined that the police did not have the right to enter the house on Narrow Lane in Woodmere on March 6, 2012, without a warrant.
Ringel was found to have 120 guns, several grenades, chemicals used to make explosives, boxes of ammunition and about 10 pounds of marijuana. His parents were in Florida at the time.
The Appellate Division panel made its unanimous ruling on Dec. 28.
According to Ringel’s lawyer, Joseph DeFelice, Nassau County police officers overstepped their bounds in responding to a silent alarm and forcing their way into the home.
One of the Fourth Amendment exceptions to requiring a warrant is the existence of an emergency, when someone needs assistance. “The police officers kept insisting they should enter and pushing their way in,” DeFelice said. “Even the D.A. admitted that the silent alarm wasn’t enough, because there are too many of them and many are false alarms.”
After the decision was announced, DeFelice said, he made a few phone calls to get Ringel out of prison.
DeFelice said that winning such a case is “not common.” The Kew Gardens-based attorney pointed to what noted Fourth Amendment expert and lawyer Barry Kamins said in a New York Law Journal article: that the decision was atypical since “most courts give great deference to law enforcement when they testify that they intended to go into premises to ensure the safety of individuals.”
The Ringels no longer live in the Woodmere house. Residents on the street declined to comment on Ringel’s release or his alleged crimes.
When Nassau County police officers John Lutz and Robert Ryan responded to a call that an alarm was sounding at the home, Ringel attempted to push them out of the door. However, they gained control of the situation and called for assistance, police officials said then.
Authorities then obtained a search warrant, and Nassau County police, ATF and FBI officers found guns of all sizes and calibers scattered throughout the house and chemicals used to make explosive devices, including pipe bombs.
A 20-house area was evacuated as a precautionary measure. Police said safety was an issue because the arms and other materials were scattered throughout the house, and they were unsure whether the home was booby-trapped.
In addition, law enforcement agents discovered a shallow pit with a wire that stretched from the pit to the house, which they believed was used to test explosives. “The munitions was believed to be live and our Arson/Bomb Squad detonated them,” then Chief of Department Steven Syrnecki said at the time. “There were enough explosives to level the home and the entire block.”
Ringel, a Woodmere native, graduated from Lawrence High School, police said and left New York in the 1980s. He lived in the Midwest and married. He has a prior conviction on a domestic charge.
Divorced in 2004, he returned to Long Island five years later, and since then has lived in several places, including on and off with his parents, Syrnecki said. Ringel was not drunk or under the influence of drugs when the police took him into custody.
Officials said then that he had no known ties to any extremist groups. Though the police are unaware of his being a drug dealer, the amount of marijuana found was considered enough for potential sale. Syrnecki called the home a “grow house” for marijuana. Ringel also had no legal pistol license or collector’s license for the guns, police said. “It is highly unusual to find this type of activity in this neighborhood,” Syrnecki, said at the time.
Officials in the Nassau County district attorney office said that they were sending a letter to the State Court of Appeals requesting that the court take the case. DeFelice also intends to submit a letter. Then the seven-justice panel, New York’s highest court, will decide whether to hear the case.
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