Former deputy sentenced to prison
A former Lee County deputy is headed to prison for beating and robbing a man while on duty.
Michael J. Ronga, 44, of Cape Coral, recently received six years in federal prison for deprivation of civil rights under color of law and obstruction of justice in connection to the 2013 incident.
U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell handed down the sentence on Dec. 9.
If convicted, Ronga faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison for the civil rights charge and up to 20 years in federal prison for the obstruction of justice charge, according to officials.
Defense attorney John Charles Coleman explained that the prosecution asked for 10 years per the guidelines. However, he suggested minimal time with house arrest or community confinement.
“We argued to the court that the sentence should be significantly less,” he said.
“The court went below the guidelines,” Coleman added.
The six-day trial took place in August, with a federal jury rendering the verdict on Sept. 1.
According to Coleman, Ronga was dissatisfied with the conviction.
“Disappointed with the outcome of the case and the sentence imposed,” he said.
Coleman noted that he and his client are appealing.
Over the next few months, both sides are expected to file briefs for the court to review.
In February, the U.S. Attorney Office with the Middle District of Florida unsealed the indictment charging Ronga. According to the document, he assaulted a man on May 5, 2013, causing bodily injury, while working as a Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy. He also took the man’s money and phone.
Ronga also allegedly lied to law enforcement about his interactions with the victim that day.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jesus M. Casas and Amira D. Fox handled the case.
They did not return a message seeking comment on the sentencing.
Ronga was initially arrested and charged on May 5, 2013, with one count of robbery no firearm or weapon. The LCSO reported at the time that it received a complaint of a deputy involved in a robbery.
The complainant told authorities that he was at a Bonita Springs restaurant when deputies responded to a disturbance. The man accepted a ride back to his residence by one deputy, later identified as Ronga.
Ronga allegedly did not drive to the man’s home, but instead drove to a nearby location in Bonita. The man was then allegedly battered and robbed. He managed to get away, fleeing toward a wooded area.
The man told authorities that Ronga got back into his vehicle and drove away.
At the scene, investigators allegedly discovered physical evidence verifying the man’s story.
In June 2013, Ronga’s employment with the LCSO was terminated. He had been employed at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office since 2008 and had most recently worked as a deputy in the Delta District.
In October 2013, the robbery charge against Ronga was nolle prossed by the State Attorney’s Office, with an “alternative prosecutorial action taken,” according to official court documents.