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Man Carjacks Taxi Driver To Pay Off Gambling Debt

Staten Island Cabbie Hands Over $502 Before Fleeing


A New Jersey man accused of carjacking a taxi driver at knifepoint in Staten Island last month told police he did so to pay off a gambling debt, according to

Michael Ruocco, 23, confessed to the robbery in a statement to police, according to the criminal complaint against him.

“I called a cab company in New Jersey. When I got to Staten, it came to my head to tell him to give me his money,” Ruocco said, according to the complaint. “I had a debt with somebody over gambling and felt I had no choice but to do what I did.”

After allegedly holding a knife to the driver’s neck, the driver gave Ruocco $502 and ran out of the cab. The amount Ruocco owes from gambling is unknown.

Ruocco, who is from Matawan, NJ, was arraigned on first-degree robbery and other charges, according to information from District Attorney Daniel Donovan’s office.

Francisco Batista, the cab company’s owner, said the driver was told by Ruocco to stop outside a home on Staten Island to pick up Ruocco’s daughter. When no one came out, however, Ruocco told him to move forward, and subsequently put a knife to his neck and told him, “I need to kill somebody today.”