RAY ROMANO'S FAMILY NIGHTMARE

Published on: September 19, 2002

A distraught Ray Romano is desperately trying to help his beloved but troubled brother Richard -- who was busted for violently attacking his pregnant wife and young child.

The 46-year-old former New York City police officer -- the inspiration for the character Robert on Ray's hit CBS show -- exploded in rage at an abortion clinic while attempting to stop his wife from terminating her pregnancy.

Richard was charged with third-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child and harassment.

"Richard's wife Lisa didn't want to abort the baby, but the marriage had reached such an incredible low that she felt she couldn't bring another child into the unhappy home life she and Richard and their son were sharing," disclosed a source close to the family.

"Ray and his wife Anna have always had an amazing marriage. They act as if they are newlyweds, despite the fact that they have four kids. Ray and Anna went back to New York this summer with their family, in part so they could be there for Richard and Lisa.

"They spent hours talking to the couple, and Ray even volunteered to pay for the best therapists in the area to help his brother and his wife try to reconcile their differences.

"Ray has always been very close to Richard. In fact, Richard inadvertently helped his family come up with the title of Ray's show.

"Richard always joked that no one loved him because he has a job as a cop, arresting people. He and brother Robert joked that while no one liked them, 'Everybody loves Raymond.' CBS bigwigs loved the comment and used it for the show's title."

Sadly, Richard had been under tremendous pressure as a New York cop in a tough neighborhood. A respected officer, Richard was featured in recruiting ads along with his brother Ray. But in August 2000, he made headlines -- abruptly retiring from the force and admitting he was at "the breaking point."

A year later, he was dealt a shattering emotional blow by the 9-11 tragedy when friends, responding to the disaster, lost their lives.

Richard's marriage was also unraveling and this past July 2, he finally snapped, say sources.

His sister-in-law Debra Sapper had taken Lisa to a Manhasset, N.Y., clinic to have an abortion. Richard learned of his wife's plans and rushed to the facility with his young son Robert in tow.

"You're not going to kill my baby!" Richard yelled at his wife, according to court documents viewed by The ENQUIRER.

Lisa was already in an exam room when Richard showed up, stated Debra.

As he entered the facility spewing obscenities, Debra charges in court papers that Richard "dropped" 18-month-old Robert "against a wall."

Then he burst into the exam room -- and all hell broke loose, according to testimony contained in the court records.

Richard allegedly began to assault his wife -- forcibly clamping onto her arms, harassing her and pulling her to leave the room immediately against her will.

Attempting unsuccessfully to break free, Lisa later told cops Richard yanked her through a hallway and bodily forced her into a stairwell.

Debra said she witnessed Richard "dragging Lisa by the arms toward the stairwell. He began screaming and crying at Lisa, and then I noticed the baby had a large bump on the right side of his head.

"I went over to Richard and said, 'What did you do to the baby?' " Debra stated in a legal deposition.

Fortunately, police headquarters was nearby. When officer Michael A. Gammaroto arrived on the scene shortly after the 10 a.m. incident, he restrained Richard before placing him under arrest.

Little Robert and his mom Lisa were examined at a local hospital -- and Richard was slapped with a court order to stay away from Lisa, Debra and their families.

In a strange twist, the marriage then suddenly started on an upswing! Lisa recently told a reporter that she and Richard have reconciled, but she refused to reveal if she had the abortion. In late August, the court said charges against Richard would be dropped and the record sealed if the ex-cop stayed out of trouble.

"Everything's been resolved," said Lisa. "There is no problem right now."