Registered sex offender arrested for 169th time

61-year-old Gian Verdelli was arrested for the 169th time for allegedly groping a woman twice on the PATH train. Port Authority Police Department

(CBS News) A Brooklyn resident was taken into custody last week for allegedly groping a woman on a train - his 169th arrest.

Gian Verdelli, a 61-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested by undercover Jersey City officers at Grove Street Station in Jersey City as he tried to board a Manhattan-bound PATH train on July 16. He was accused of groping a 28-year-old woman on two occasions. Verdelli was identified by a photo the victim snapped of him after one of the incidents.

"He said 'It could be me' after (the police) showed him a picture," Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman told CBSNews.com.

Coleman added this was the first time that he was aware of that Verdelli had been picked up for groping someone on PATH train that connects New Jersey and New York City, but admitted that the majority of the alleged groper's 168 other arrests were for sexually-related crimes.

However, Hudson County prosecutors will not be able to enact a harsher punishment just because Verdelli has been arrested so many times.

"We can only charge him for what he did and not what his criminal record is," Debbie Simon, the deputy first assistant prosecutor on the case, told CBSNews.com

"That's fairly unusual, the number of arrests," she admitted.

Verdelli, who was also allegedly carrying marijuana at the time of his arrest, is currently charged with two counts of criminal sexual contact, which is a fourth-degree offense in New Jersey.  Simon said that he will face up to 18 months in jail per groping, in addition to any other crimes he might be convicted of.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that Verdelli had been arrested as recent as September 2011 and pleaded guilty to jumping a subway turnstile. He served 10 days in jail, according to a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which prosecuted that case and several others against the alleged groper.

Simon said that her office has not typically seen this many arrests on a plaintiff's record, adding that this might be a case of 169th time is the charm.

He is currently being held in lieu of bail, CBS New York reported.

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