A Holtsville man who pleaded guilty to carjacking in Greenport after a 14-month-old baby was trapped in a series of high-speed chases is expected to serve two to four years in prison.
Paul Ludman, 56, pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony counts of aggravated larceny, DUI and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney’s office.
“For that matter, this defendant was under the influence of alcohol and stole a car with an infant in the back seat, with complete disregard for the law or anyone,” Mr Tierney said in a statement.
The incident occurred on the morning of February 14. Retired East Marion engineer Bill Gorga was shopping on Greenport’s Front Street before a Valentine’s Day dinner date with his wife, Stephanie, when a woman ran from the store, crying, “That car just left my baby in the Inside! They took my car and the kids!”
The baby was her grandson who was suddenly taken away in her stolen Mercedes.
“‘Don’t worry,’ Mr. Gorga said he told her in an interview after the incident. ‘We got this guy.'”
The woman got into Mr Gorga’s Ford Ranger truck and they chased the stolen vehicle away.
“I fired and put my hand on the horn to get attention, and I don’t know how long I didn’t take it off,” he recalled.
Mr Gorga managed to run ahead of the fleeing Mercedes and force the car against some fences.
When Mr. Gorga blocked the path of the car, he said, Mr. Rudeman, who was in the driver’s seat, started yelling, ‘Take the child! Bring baby! I don’t want children! “
The woman jumped out of Mr. Gorga’s truck, ran to the back of her Mercedes, and climbed into the back seat.
According to Mr. Gorga and police, Mr. Rudeman suddenly accelerated away again, this time with the woman and her grandson in the back seat.
Miraculously, Mr. Gorga caught up with the Mercedes again and forced it to stop on the side of the road again.
This time, the woman and baby got out of the car – before Mr Rudman stomped on the gas a third time and fled, ultimately crashing the stolen car.
“It could have ended in tragedy but luckily the child’s grandmother and [Mr. Gorga] We were able to get the child out of the car before this defendant hit the barrier,” Mr Tierney said.
In his May 30 sentencing, Mr. Rudman is expected to be sentenced to two to four years in prison, the district attorney said.
The guilty plea is good news for Mr. Gorga, the Good Samaritan.
“I’m going to call detectives tomorrow and ask him if there’s going to be a grand jury where I have to testify, so that’s fine,” he said this week. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Mr Gorga said he felt Mr Rudman deserved a harsher sentence.
“Does that mean he’s doing well in six months?” he wondered. “In my personal opinion, he deserves two to four points.”