BY ALICIA CRUZ
Former Seton Hall University basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez has made news headline again.
The 47-year-old native New Yorker turned himself in to Millburn authorities following a June 29 complaint from the Ralph Lauren store manager at the Short Hills Mall.
According to a report on crimewatch.com, Gonzalez allegedly stole a Polo Ralph Lauren satchel, valued at $1,395, from the store, then took the item to another establishment in the mall, Joe's American Bar and Grill where he left it with a hostess and never returned to retrieve it.
According to NorthJersey.com, the hostess returned the satchel to the Ralph Lauren store manager, who noticed that the item had been damaged in the area where an anti-theft sensor had been attached. The manager notified Millburn police, who initiated an investigation.
After identifying Gonzalez and realizing he removed the sensor from the item, then walked out of the store without paying for it, police issued an arrest warrant for the former Manhattan College coach and he turned himself in on July 5.
Gonzalez of Harrison, N.Y., has been charged with shoplifting and criminal mischief. He was released on his own recognizance.
Gonzalez' attorney, Gerald Krovatin said his client plans to plead not guilty, and blamed the incident on "miscommunication" and a "series of misunderstandings."
"He was not taken into custody," Krovatin told the Associated Press. "He was issued summonses and complaints and went home. Bobby had no intention of stealing anything."
The hotheaded Gonzalez was fired the day after the Pirates lost 87-69 to Texas Tech in the opening round of the NIT. Seton Hall finished 19-13, its best season under Gonzalez, who departed with a 66-59 overall record and a 29-45 mark in the Big East Conference. He was terminated in March.
Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County prosecutor's office said the shoplifting charge is a third-degree offense punishable by up to five years in jail. No court date has been set for Gonzalez and the charges could be downgraded and sent to municipal court once a date is set, or the case could be heard in the county court, Carter told NorthJersey.com.