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Judge reverses decision to release Galloway man in attempted luring of Atlantic City girl

A judge on Tuesday reconsidered her decision to release a Galloway Township man accused of trying to lure an Atlantic City girl into his after electronic monitoring was not an option.
Gaetano Reale was ordered released Monday, once he could be fitted with an ankle bracelet that would monitor his whereabouts. The judge also had limited his travel to his mother’s and brother’s homes in Egg Harbor Township and to his mother’s doctor in Somers Point.
He was banned from entering Atlantic City.
But on Tuesday, Reale was back before Superior Court Judge Nancy Ridgway after it was found electronic monitoring would not be approved.
That decision led to the judge reconsidering her own ruling in the case.
“As I was thinking about it overnight, I’ve determine — even if placed on electronic monitoring — it gave him too much leeway to travel around the area,” Ridgway said. “Even if electronic monitoring was available, I feel that’s too much leeway given the seriousness of the offense.”
Reale was arrested Sept. 17, after a woman said he tried to get her 12-year-old daughter to get into his car.
She told police that she and her daughter were walking the dog toward the corner store when the woman saw a car approach her daughter and stop.
The driver told her she was cute and asked if she wanted a ride, the girl later told Officer Adrian Nunez-Santos.
Reale, 59, has been in the Atlantic County jail since.
On Tuesday, Reale’s attorney said that “he may have mistaken her for a prostitute, he did make an admission to that particular issue.”
The judge took issue with that.
“It concerns me that anyone would think for a moment that a 12-year-old was a prostitute and would be approaching her in that way while supposedly electioneering,” Ridgway said, referencing the man’s car that was emblazoned with the president’s name.
“That wasn’t believable,” she said. “Then when the mother yelled, he drove off. These are all things that are very concerning.”
The public safety assessment, which is used to help determine whether a defendant is detained under bail reform, recommended Reale be released.
But Ridgway noted it did not take into concern the full scale of the alleged offense.
“The age of this victim is of great concern,” the judge said. “She and other potential victims like her are vulnerable to this predatory type of behavior.”
Ridgway’s original decision to release Reale was based upon the dependence three family members had on him. But on Tuesday, she questioned that after pointing to a trespassing arrest Reale had last year in Nevada.
“(His mother, aunt and disabled brother) need his assistance and he’s disabled too, but somehow gets to Nevada last year,” she said. “This causes me concern. It also causes me concern that his charge from the (1980s) was based upon false information being provided in respect to a firearm. Maybe that wasn’t a big deal in the ’80s, but it is now.”
Reale will now remain in the Atlantic County Justice Facility pending the outcome of his case.


(Note: This story was first published Sept. 28, 2020, reporting the judge’s decision to release the defendant. It has been updated to include her reversed decision.)

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