By JAMES A. KIMBLE
Union Leader Correspondent
Friday, May. 7, 2010
BRENTWOOD – Kristin Ruggiero was ordered held without bail after a jury convicted her of trying to set up her ex-husband and have him jailed by falsely reporting to police that he sent her a dozen threatening text messages in May 2008.
Judge Kenneth McHugh said it was necessary to keep Ruggiero in jail after the jury found that the 34-year-old mother used the criminal justice system as a means to falsely imprison her ex-husband, Jeffrey, and ruin his career.
►Judge Kenneth McHugh lectures Ruggiero - 1.3mb .mp3
►Jury to begin deliberating in Ruggiero trial (14)
►Prosecutors: Ex-wife falsified texts to have husband jailed (3)
►Police chief says Ruggiero targeted him (5)
"The jury's verdict has confirmed my belief after hearing 8 days of this case that the defendant is a pathological liar," McHugh said. "She will do and say anything in order to distort facts so as to avoid responsibility for her actions."
McHugh remarked that Ruggiero's case was not a normal one for Rockingham County.
It came exactly two years after Kristin Ruggiero had played a key witness in the prosecution of her ex-husband, who was later exonerated by prosecutors when an East Kingston police investigation concluded that Jeffrey Ruggiero was convicted of crimes he did not commit.
Ruggiero, a U.S. Coast Guard chief petty officer, nearly lost his career and was jailed for three and a half weeks following an April 30, 2008, criminal threatening case based on Kristin Ruggiero's complaints.
As Jeffrey Ruggiero awaited sentencing in that case, his ex-wife complained to police about the text messages - sent on a disposable cell phone.
The investigation into that second case - undertook by East Kingston police Chief Richard Simpson - found the signals on the disposable phone coincided with Kristin Ruggiero's whereabouts in California and Tennessee.
Exeter District Court Judge Laurence Cullen, who convicted Jeffrey Ruggiero in the criminal threatening case two years ago, came to hear the verdict in the Ruggiero verdict, quietly taking a seat - out of his robe - in the rear of the courtroom.
Kristin Ruggiero used other technology such as computer viruses and anonymous text messaging to hack into her ex-husband's computer and e-mail as a way to continually stalk and harass her ex-husband, according to prosecutors.
McHugh said he believed her adept knowledge with computers and technology made her a flight risk.
"She has shown the ability to fly around the country. She is computer savvy and there's no doubt in my mind if she were allowed to leave this building today, she would find some way to avoid appearance on July 1," McHugh said.
Ruggiero showed no emotion as she was led out of the courtroom and taken into custody.
At her sentencing on July 1, Ruggiero faces a potential 3 1/2 to 7 year state prison sentence on each of the 12 counts of falsifying physical evidence. She was also found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of false report to law enforcement.
Following the verdict, Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard said the conviction marked a victory for more than the criminal justice system.
"It's a good day for the men and women who are real victims of domestic violence," Blanchard said.
He prosecuted the 8-day trial with Assistant County Attorney Geoffrey Ward, a member of the domestic violence unit.
Simpson, the police chief whose investigation found Ruggiero was using the criminal justice system as a tool of revenge, said he will be happy to move on from the case, but hopes it serves as a warning.
"Maybe it will send a message to other people who would think of doing such a thing," he said.
Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid said despite the conviction, prosecutors will continue to investigate some of the evidence and documents submitted by Ruggiero as part of her defense.
Reid declined to say whether Ruggiero or others could face charges if evidence suggested other crimes were committed.