Panhandler gets 3 years in assault on university student at gas station

Woman stuck with needle after giving man money

January 07, 2000|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A panhandler was given a three-year prison sentence yesterday for assault after a woman was poked by a hypodermic needle he was carrying in his shirt pocket.

Frank F. Ronuckeo III, 25, of the 7700 block of Gough St. also was ordered by Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes yesterday to undergo drug treatment and stay away from the victim.

Ronuckeo pleaded guilty to assault after an incident last May when he approached a Towson University student at the Exxon station in the 200 block of E. Joppa Road.

Ronuckeo asked the woman for a quarter and, when she gave him a dollar, he tried to put his arm around her and kiss her, according to court records.

The 21-year-old woman rebuffed his advances and was poked in the arm by a hypodermic syringe in Ronuckeo's shirt pocket, according to police. As he left, Ronuckeo told the victim, "Here's a reality check, now you have AIDS," the court record shows.

John Cox, assistant state's attorney, said that the woman was "terrified" at the prospect of contracting AIDS.

Tests have shown that she does not have AIDS and is not HIV-positive, Cox said.

Ronuckeo, who was arrested the next day, wrote a letter to the woman's mother saying that he could not have infected her and that the hug was standard procedure for him as a panhandler. "I hug every pretty girl who gives me money panhandling, and try to kiss them on the cheek," he wrote.

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