The Oneida County man who cut off his ankle bracelet and fled to Binghamton appeared in Rome City Court this morning for a felony exam. 66-year-old Ronald Cook plead guilty to criminal mischief in the fourth degree after the prosecution made a motion to amend the original felony charge.
Cook was arrested in November of 2017 after cutting his ankle bracelet off while on house arrest and fleeing to Binghamton. However, he’s not technically considered a fugitive.
“He wasn’t considered an inmate that would qualify him to be a fugitive of justice,” said Scott McNamara, the Oneida County District Attorney.
Rather, Cook is a part of a civil confinement program under the theory that he has a mental illness.
“Which means, he has committed a crime, he had been sentenced to a prison term, he has served his complete prison term and then when he was being released from prison a determination was made that he should be held in civil confinement,” McNamara said.
Cook was arrested on a separate charge of rape in the first degree back in the 90’s. After serving time, Cook was released on house arrest, under supervision. Today, he appeared for a felony exam but was instead took a plea offer for a misdemeanor charge.
“The only crime that he actually committed was breaking the ankle bracelet,” McNamara said.
Still, Judge John Gannon sentenced cook to six months in Oneida County Jail. A term McNamara said is a bit harsh for a crime of this sort. But Cook’s history could have affected the judge’s decision.
“That’s what changes things–prior criminal record and also the reason you damaged something. So in his case, not only did he damage it but he damaged it so that he could abscond from their supervision or their program,” McNamara said.
When cook gets out, McNamara said he doesn’t think he’ll be of any danger to the public.
“Don’t have a lot of concerns because I think he’s, you know, going to go back to a civil confinement situation where he’ll be in the facility itself,” McNamara said.
McNamara said if Cook behaves, he could be out of jail in four months.