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Judge gives repeat offender Christmas release for brawl with Mahwah Home Depot security guard

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

ONLY ON CVP: A judge in Hackensack today gave an early Christmas present to an ex-con who knocked over plants and flowers during a tussle with a Mahwah Home Depot security guard who caught him shoplifting, knocking 70 days off his jail sentence and sending him home.

Rene Ruggio, a 50-year-old career criminal, “has served seven months of the nine-month sentence,” defense attorney Ian Silvera told Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian. “He just wants to spend Christmas with his family.”

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Keith Travers opposed the move.

“Two-hundred seventy days is fair,” he said.

Ruggio, for his part, told the judge he’s through with crime.

“I regret everything I did,” he said. “I”m going to listen to my wife.”

His incarceration has been an extreme hardship on his family, Ruggio said, including a mother who lost both lower legs to diabetes and his wife, who he said has been holding things together in his absence.

Ruggio earlier pleaded guilty to shoplifting and refusing to stop for the security guard as he tried to run from the Route 17 store with more than $2,000 worth of power tools, electrical and plumbing supplies and a microwave oven hidden beneath a large bag of grass seed on June 3.

An off-duty Spring Valley police officer grabbed Ruggio as other customers called police.

Jerejian acknowledged the risk of releasing the Long Island ex-con, who’s been in an out of jail and prison ever since he turned 20 on charges and convictions ranging from robbery, assault and weapons violations to burglary, theft, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, possession of stolen property and drug offenses.

Just last year, Mahwah police arrested Ruggio and another man for shoplifting $1,400 worth of power tools from the same store. Ruggio later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, records show.

“I think, based on your record, you’re a risk to commit another offense,” the judge said, “and there are more things weighing against you than for you. I guess I’m optimistic, and I’m going to take what it’s worth at this time.”

Jerejian called the plea agreement “a good deal, and ordinarily I would stick to it. But I understand.

“I’m going to give you an opportunity to give home,” he told Ruggio. “But you better think about this….[I]f you don’t abide strictly to the terms of probation, you’ll be back here and in state prison.”

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Keith Travers, defense attorney Ian Silvera, Rene Ruggio (STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)

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