NEW YORK (PIX11) — The mother of Julio Ramirez, a Brooklyn social worker fatally drugged and robbed after leaving The Ritz, a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen last April, wept quietly as suspect Jacob Barroso was charged with her son’s drug-induced murder.
But all was not quiet during the arraignment of three suspects, as a man who said he was Barroso’s nephew got into an argument with court officers, when the spectator tried to leave quickly after the final suspect was arraigned.
“He told me this is his house!” the nephew yelled in the court hallway about one officer. “He said this is his house!”
The same spectator defended Barroso and said, “My nephew wouldn’t kill anybody.”
Barroso and a second suspect, Robert Demaio, were charged with giving Ramirez a fatal cocktail of drugs that included fentanyl and lidocaine, after the social worker left The Ritz in the early hours of April 21. He was seen getting into a cab with three men and found dead in the back of the taxi — alone — 90 minutes later at a downtown location. His cellphone was missing and he’d been robbed of $17,000 from his bank accounts.
Regarding Dimaio, prosecutor Emily Ching told the court, “This individual has been involved in acquiring fentanyl and mixing it in with other drugs.”
The prosecutor said the drugs were used to immobilize victims “and that incapacitation led to the deaths of two individuals.”
Demaio, 34, was also charged with a second felony murder in the drugging death and robbery of political consultant John Umberger, 33. Umberger was found dead in his boss’s townhouse on East 61 Street last June 1, several days after he left the Q club on Eighth Avenue.
Umberger had a similar cocktail of drugs in his system and $22,000 worth of funds were missing from his bank accounts.
Prosecutors said they had surveillance footage of Demaio with Umberger by the apartment building on East 61st Street where the consultant was staying, although they didn’t refer to Umberger by name.
Prosecutor Ching added the fatal druggings “included fentanyl and a designer drug, p-fluorofentanyl, which is sold on the dark web.”
Defense attorney David Krauss tried to convince the judge to give Barroso a bail package, saying, “He has family here. He’s married. He has a young child with a serious medical condition.,” adding it wasn’t clear when the victims consumed the drugs.
“This was not a typical bank robbery,” Krauss said.
Yet the judge remanded Barroso and Dimaio, who both have criminal records, to jail with no bail.
Another man named in the indictment, Andre Butts, was charged with robbery and identity theft in connection to the Ramirez case and the earlier drugging of two victims that survived on April 8, 2022.
Prosecutors said the robbery crew was operating a scheme dating back to March 2021, and “approached intoxicated individuals” coming out of clubs.
In the case of Julio Ramirez, the prosecutor said Butts “is on video with his co-defendants buying sneakers with the decedent’s credit card.”
Police said the robbery teams also ran up huge Uber Eats bills and bought hundreds of dollars worth of liquor.
PIX11 News reported last June that police suspected multiple robbery crews were targeting clubs in different sections of Manhattan, midtown and downtown.
At least seven people have died in fatal druggings, including fashion designer Katie Gallagher.
“Our entire city continues to mourn the tragic losses of Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Umberger,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “In addition to the unimaginable pain their family and loved ones are enduring, I know that many other New Yorkers have feared for their own safety when out experiencing New York’s vibrant nightlife. These charges demonstrate that our career prosecutors have the skill, professionalism and dedication needed to solve these types of challenging cases. I am deeply grateful to our team for their incredibly hard work, along with the detectives at the NYPD who were outstanding partners throughout this entire investigation.”