NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A suspect accused of groping a woman on the subway is in police custody, and it’s not his first run-in with police, or even his second.
He was just serving time for a similar crime, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reports.
Gian Verdelli, 67, is a registered sex offender who has been arrested by the NYPD for a range of crimes, including sex abuse, forcible touching and fare evasion.
In 2012, CBS2 reported Verdelli had been arrested for the 169th time after groping a woman on a train in New Jersey. The majority of those arrests were for sexual offenses.
“He should be put away for a long time, right? Like, there’s just no reason that he should be back out there doing it to people over and over again,” Kim Gabriel, of Greenpoint, said.
This time, Verdelli was arrested for allegedly groping an off-duty NYPD traffic agent who was on the way to her daughter’s graduation.
The two were on a Manhattan-bound L train from the Bedford Avenue station just before 9 a.m. Wednesday when police say he put his hands up the 37-year-old’s dress.
The woman managed to take a picture of Verdelli on the platform before he ran off.
Police say Verdelli was just released from prison on May 1 for a similar crime.
In that case, police say he groped a 42-year-old woman on board the subway at Brooklyn and East Houston Street.
He was sentenced for two years but did not serve the full sentence.
Officials say they were able to identify him as the suspect in Wednesday’s incident because he’s a transit sexual offense recidivists who is on parole.
“Maybe they need to find something else to do with him. Maybe instead of being incarcerated, maybe he needs to be in some kind of facility where they treat whatever his problem is. I don’t think he needs to be let back out on the street, that’s for sure. That’s too many times. How many times are you gonna give him a chance?” Queens resident Monica Rice said.
Verdelli was captured by police around 5:30 a.m. Friday at a homeless shelter on Wards Island.
Charges against him include persistent sexual abuse and forcible touching.
“If this case doesn’t point to the fact that, why we should continue to push for a ban on the subways, I don’t know what does,” NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.
This incident comes right after the MTA said it’s moving forward with plans to ban repeat offenders from subways and buses, which the NYPD says it supports.
“We all know that the subway’s a very unique environment, and this is what’s the definition of crazy, right? Keep doing the same thing and expecting different results? So, that’s why we’re pushing to get the law changed,” O’Neill said.
Ultimately for that to happen, the state legislature would have to take action.
Anyone with additional information about Verdelli is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74682), logging onto the Crime stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enterings TIP577.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)