NEW YORK – With his still-wounded victim looking on, a man admitted Tuesday to shooting a security guard accidentally during a brazen attempt to rob a jewelry store in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
Rafael Rabinovich-Arda pleaded guilty to burglary and acknowledged the November 2008 shooting. His gun went off as he struggled with security guard Gregory J. Boyle.
Rabinovich-Arda, 21, briefly answered a judge's questions and said he had none of his own. He has been promised a 15-year prison term at his sentencing, set for Feb. 16. He had originally faced assault and other charges.
Rabinovich-Arda's defense team has said another man manipulated him into trying to hold up the store in November 2008. The unidentified associate fed Rabinovich-Arda cocaine and preyed on his depression and loneliness after a childhood of being uprooted from Brazil to Israel to the United States, a social worker involved in his defense said during a Jan. 15 court hearing.
But prosecutors said Rabinovich-Arda took enough initiative to get a gun for the crime. And Boyle said Tuesday that Rabinovich-Arda's problems didn't excuse his behavior.
"A lot of people out there have a hard life, and they don't go out committing crimes and shooting people," Boyle, 55, said outside court. The retired New York police detective said he still has bullet fragments from the shooting lodged in his chest and continues to have numbness and other aftereffects.
Rabinovich-Arda's lawyer declined to comment.
Prosecutors said Rabinovich-Arda blasted open a jewelry case before grappling with Boyle. The gunfire sent guests scrambling for cover in the lobby of the landmark hotel, which has symbolized cosmopolitan glamour for decades and appeared in the 1945 Ginger Rogers film "Weekend at the Waldorf."
"One place you would never figure (a shooting) would happen is the Waldorf," said Boyle, who has since retired from his security-guard job.
Rabinovich-Arda is an Israeli citizen and will be deported after serving his sentence, his lawyer, Bret J. Taylor, said this month.