PLAINVILLE - A Naugatuck man has been sentenced to a year in prison for his role in a local mugging.
Hector Cruz, 23, accepted a plea deal Tuesday in Bristol Superior Court. The deal, offered by a judge after a pretrial hearing, called for Cruz to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery. He entered his plea under the Alford doctrine - meaning Cruz may dispute some of the allegations, but he believes there’s a chance he could be convicted after a trial.
Cruz was sentenced to eight years in prison, suspended after service of one year, and three years of probation. He was also issued a lifetime protective order that forbids him from having any guns or ammunition, contacting the victim or going to his home or coming within 100 yards of him.
In exchange for his plea, a number of charges against Cruz were dropped, including those of first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, third-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit third-degree larceny, carrying a dangerous weapon, weapons in a motor vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to police, Cruz and two other men were spending time with the 20-year-old victim at his home on East Street on June 25, 2016. Cruz and David Rivera, 22, knew the victim, but the third man did not, police said. In the hour or so that they were there, the victim later told police, the man he did not know acted very suspicious, asking him several questions about his 2009 Honda Accord.
After the men left, the victim went out to his car and saw them drive away. Shortly thereafter, he was walking back into his home when a man wearing a white mask ran towards him and began assaulting him, hitting him in the head multiple times. The victim then noticed that there was a second assailant, as he started wrestling with both suspects on the ground. He threw his car keys to them, and the assailants got into his car and left.
The victim suffered some minor bruising to his head and a scrape on his elbow. He declined medical attention at the scene.
Cruz and Rivera were found nearby shortly after the mugging and arrested on identical charges. Rivera’s case is still pending.
The stolen Accord was later found abandoned in Bridgeport. It is unclear if the third alleged accomplice has been charged.
On Tuesday in Bristol Superior Court, Alfonzo Sirica, Cruz’s attorney, said this was a particularly difficult case for him because his client had no criminal record prior to his felony plea during the hearing, and that he has a solid work history. He became an accomplice to the robbery incident because he got involved with the wrong crowd, Sirica said.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or email@example.com. Follow Justin Muszynski on Twitter@muszynskiBP.