Plea deal for sex offender’s failure to comply

By Philip Sean Curran

Staff Writer

The man who raped a Princeton University student on campus in the 1980s last month admitted that he had failed to comply with New Jersey’s sex offender law when he moved into Burlington County without registering with police.

Michael V. Tufano, 46, took a plea bargain March 21 from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office rather than go on trial. The deal calls for him to get two years’ probation at his sentencing, scheduled for May 12, in Burlington County Superior Court.

His latest legal troubles started last year when Tufano moved from Princeton to Chesterfield. He was required to notify Princeton Police that he was leaving town and then register with Chesterfield Police, per Megan’s Law.  But he did neither, authorities had said.

Ross Gigliotti, his defense lawyer, said Wednesday that Tufano had thought that he was no longer bound by the requirements of the law.

Tufano was charged in July by both police departments, although the case was handled in Burlington County. His criminal past includes a campus rape of a Princeton co-ed on Jan.8, 1989.

Tufano was 18 when he attacked a 19-year-old female student, in Prospect Gardens. He was convicted at trial that December and later sentenced to 10 years in prison,  before New Jersey enacted Megan’s Law.

He subsequently was re-sentenced under the terms of the law in the mid-1990s, and thought he was no longer bound by its conditions after 10 years, his lawyer has said. As it turns out,  he would have had to file a request with a judge to seek such relief, Gigliotti said.

The case against Tufano began with a noise complaint, in Chesterfield, stemming from his use of an ATV in June. Local police then investigated and charged him July 20 with the Megan’s Law violation, an offense calling for three to five years in prison.

Tufano is self-employed and resides in Chesterfield, Gigliotti said.