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</IMG>The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York)


State police and federal agents raided the home and another property of Oswego's police chief Tuesday and hauled away three snowmobiles and an ATV in a stolen property investigation.

Troopers and FBI agents executed search warrants at properties owned by Chief William Ruggio just after 4 p.m. The warrants gave officers permission to look for stolen property that included snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and related records, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Syracuse.

Federal prosecutors would not say whether the raids were related to an investigation into former Oswego Mayor John Gosek. But the FBI agents who searched Ruggio's properties included Special Agent Frederick Bragg, who is the lead agent in the Gosek case. Bragg refused to comment.

Nearly four weeks ago, Gosek was arrested on charges of soliciting sex with two underage girls. Gosek resigned the following week.

Ruggio, 51, has not been charged. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Katko would not comment on the searches.

Ruggio is in his second stint as police chief. He was fired in 1993 after six years as chief for running his apartment rental business from the police department and for trying to sabotage a city investigation into his rental dealings. Two years before that, he was suspended for insubordination and violating zoning laws. Gosek rehired him six weeks ago after Alexander Zukovsky resigned.

State police searched Ruggio's property at 9 Porter St., then his home at 14 Whitetail Circle. They towed away two Ski-Doo snowmobiles and a Yamaha snowmobile from the Porter Street property, and a green Arctic Cat ATV from Ruggio's home.

The troopers went to the Oswego police station Tuesday afternoon and told Ruggio they were going to execute the search warrants, Ruggio said. He went with the officers, he said.

"My stomach is turning," Ruggio told a reporter as he stood on the front steps of the Porter Street property. "Apparently, it wasn't my stuff in the first place."

Two of the snowmobiles state police seized from the Porter Street property had license plates that matched those of snowmobiles stolen in December or January from outside a snowmobile service garage in Wolcott in Wayne County.

The two yellow Ski-Doos were on a trailer outside a garage of Joseph Henner, owner of Henner Motorsports, when someone drove off with them, Henner said Tuesday. They were left unattended for less than an hour before they were stolen, he said.

The Ski-Doos belonged to Robert Delf, of Wolcott, who said he took them to Henner to have them tuned up for the winter. Neither Henner nor Delf had been notified by state police Tuesday night that the snowmobiles were recovered.

"They just backed up, hooked onto the trailer and drove away," Delf said. "They showed up out there?"

The snowmobiles and trailer were probably worth $15,000, Henner said.

"It would take someone with a lot of guts to do that, to back in and drive off like that," said Henner, who said he'd never had snowmobiles stolen from his shop. He said it was "unbelievable" that they'd end up at property owned by a police chief.

Oswego's acting mayor, William Dunsmoor, said Ruggio is still the city's police chief.

"I don't know what's going on," said Dunsmoor, a former Oswego city police officer who worked with Ruggio for nearly two decades. "As of right now, he's still police chief."

Dunsmoor said he hadn't spoken to Ruggio since the searches.

"Everybody just hopes it comes to an end here, all that's happened," Dunsmoor said.

Oswego Fire Chief Edward Geers, who lives two houses from Ruggio's home on Whitetail Circle, said he was shocked to see state and federal investigators there.

"It bothers me that this is happening," Geers said. "It bothers me that people are looking at Oswego in a bad light. It hurts because this is a good city, and there are a lot of good people here."

Ruggio, an Oswego native, served 18 years on the city police department. He was appointed chief in June 1987 by Mayor William Cahill Jr., who is Ruggio's uncle through marriage.

From 1993 until 2000, Ruggio served as vice president of human resources for Rentavision, a 250-store retail chain. He was in charge of training, internal security and personnel for more than 1,000 employees in 16 states.

In 2000, Ruggio opened NewVision Rentals, a rent-to-own appliances and furniture store in Fulton. Today, there's also a store in Oswego.

He and his wife own 12 properties in Oswego, according to county land records.

Ruggio, who has a salary of $73,359, can't make arrests or carry a police firearm but still is qualified to be chief, the city's Civil Service Commission officer said last week. His status as chief is provisional until he passes a state civil service exam he can take in March. But he won't need police certification at all to work as chief, the officer said.
PHOTO Gloria Wright/Staff photographer AN ARCTIC CAT all-terrain vehicle is loaded by state police Tuesday onto a flat-bed truck in front of Oswego police Chief William Ruggio's home. Gloria Wright/Staff photographer OSWEGO POLICE CHIEF William Ruggio arrives at his Whitetail Circle home Tuesday as it is being searched by the state police and FBI. At the door is Trooper Paul Kunzwiler. Gloria Wright/Staff photographer FBI AGENTS and state police searched the property at 9 Porter St., Oswego, Tuesday. It is owned by Oswego police Chief William Ruggio.
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