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Woodside man cuts deal, denies threat with zucchini

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Woodside’s so-called zucchini bandit who allegedly held up a man with a large vegetable stuck beneath his jacket like a gun pleaded guilty to attempted robbery last Thursday, avoiding what would have been his fifth trial for the 1995 crime.

Fulton Guevera, 33, of Woodside, will be sentenced before State Supreme Court Judge Randall Eng on Jan. 24 for stealing $20 and a wristwatch from Oscar Leal in Jackson Heights on April 4, 1995, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney said.

He was apparently armed only with a zucchini which he wielded beneath his jacket, claiming it was a gun.

Leal reported the robbery to police officers sitting in a nearby car, who soon arrested Guevera.

But, according to published reports, at last Thursday’s hearing he denied having pretended a zucchini was a gun.

Eng is expected to sentence Guevera to three to six years for the crime, which would likely make him a free man because of time already served.

After three mistrials, Guevera was convicted of second-degree robbery in 1997 and was sentenced to 18 years to life because of his lengthy criminal record, according to published reports.

But the conviction was thrown out in November by a state Court of Appeals ruling because prosecutors did not try hard enough to bring Leal back to Queens to testify, according to the court decision.

Leal had been working on his mother’s farm in Mexico at the time, and his testimony from the previous trials had simply been read in court.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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