By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – A pair of Otsego County men were sentenced Monday, May 10, for their roles in a series of robberies, attempted robberies and an assault that took place during a one-day crime spree April 24, 2020, in and around the city and town of Oneonta.
Brian Ruple, 42, of Otego, received a sentence of seven years in state prison for a second degree assault with a knife that he committed during one of the robberies, at the Kwik-Fill convenience store at 65 Chestnut St. in Oneonta, where he stabbed a clerk in the hand. Ruple will then serve between two-and-a-half to five years for robbery in the third degree.
Otsego County Judge John Lambert said he was sentencing Ruple as a second-time felony offender because Ruple was convicted in Oneida County in 2013 of a class D felony of possession of a dangerous controlled substance.
Ruple’s accomplice, driver Derrick Gray, 42, of Laurens, received a sentence of between two-and-a-half to five years for robbery in the third degree.
Both men had previously agreed to the terms of their plea bargains, but Gray – representing himself – made a series of objections Monday, saying he did not think he was fairly treated and he shouldn’t get the same sentence for robbery as Ruple.
Lambert told Gray that he was a repeat offender and he got a much better deal than he might have ended up with had he gone to trial, with the longest possible sentence being “life in prison.”
Gray said he “did not have the same intent” as Ruple, and called the sentence a “miscarriage of justice.”
“You can’t keep diminishing the role you played,” Lambert said. “You’re having buyer’s remorse or something, but you got a good sentence, given your criminal history.”
Although both men waived their rights to appeal most aspects of the case as part of the pleas, Lambert said some of Gray’s appeals will survive and can be looked at again by the Appellate Court.
Ruple was charged with second-degree assault and two counts each of third-degree robbery and third-degree attempted robbery for his alleged role in the robbery of four gas stations and burglaries at Losie’s Gun Shop in the town of Davenport and the Dollar Tree in the town of Oneonta.
Gray had been charged with third-degree robbery and third-degree attempted robbery in connection with the four gas station incidents. Gray was apparently not involved in the two break-ins.
However, Gray did admit in March in court that he drove Ruple to the gas stations and did enter at least one of them, a Mirabito store in the town of Oneonta, in an attempt to create a diversion.
Gray was paying for an iced tea when Ruple came up to the cash register and demanded money. Gray said Ruple was carrying a knife during the robberies.