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Lewiston police officer resigns, admits surveillance of woman changing her clothes

Alexander P. Ruckh, whose police career ended with his arrest for trying to obtain nude video of a woman in a Lewiston locker room, disclosed his deeds while being interviewed for a job as a state trooper.

And his three attempts to obtain cellphone video in the locker room in the spring and summer of 2017 all failed.

Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek made the bizarre disclosures Friday in explaining why Ruckh received a plea bargain to a misdemeanor after being charged originally with three felony counts of unlawful surveillance.

"We would never have known about this crime," Wojtaszek said. "When (State Police) were interviewing him about things he did in his past, he told them about it."

The woman, an acquaintance of Ruckh's, was as surprised as anyone.

"The victim didn't know about it," Wojtaszek said. "She had no idea."

"The bottom line is, Mr. Ruckh accepted full responsibility for his attempt to acquire images," defense attorney Joseph M. LaTona said. "I don't want to get into the circumstances of how and why it happened, but it did happen and he's accepted responsibility."

Ruckh, 32, had been on unpaid leave from his post as a Town of Lewiston police officer since his arrest.

He resigned this week as part of the plea bargain, Town Supervisor Steve Broderick said Friday.

Wojtaszek said the woman consented to a deal in which Ruckh pleaded guilty Nov. 5 to a misdemeanor count of attempted second-degree unlawful surveillance in exchange for his resignation.

"This guilty plea was victim-driven, obtained in order to balance the interests of public safety with the wishes and approval of the person most directly affected by the defendant’s actions," Wojtaszek said in a prepared statement.

She said getting Ruckh off the police force was a "priority" both for her and the victim. He had joined the Lewiston police in December 2014.

State Police began investigating the incidents Nov. 27, 2018, according to Trooper James O'Callaghan, public information officer for Troop A.

After the disclosure in the job interview, investigators interviewed Ruckh as a suspect and obtained a statement they could use in court, Wojtaszek said.

However, efforts to find nude video from the locker room on Ruckh's phone failed, Wojtaszek said.

To avoid identifying the woman, authorities haven't said where in Lewiston that happened, but Wojtaszek said it was not on government property and Ruckh was not on duty at the time.

"The inability to uncover the actual footage of the events presented a potential challenge in proving three felony-level offenses beyond a reasonable doubt," Wojtaszsek's statement said. "It should be stressed that there was no evidence that the defendant committed any completed sexual offenses, and these acts did not occur while the defendant was working in his capacity as a police officer."

After both Lewiston town justices recused themselves, the case was transferred to Wheatfield Town Court, where Ruckh will be sentenced Jan. 21 by Justice Gary Strenkoski.

The maximum sentence is a year in the Niagara County Jail, but probation also is a possibility.

"He was a service veteran. But for this instance, he was a fine police officer and it's unfortunate his career with the Lewiston Police Department ended in the fashion that it has," LaTona said.

 

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