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SoHo Bunny-Napper Released From Jail After Three Months

By  Irene Plagianos and Andrea Swalec | June 18, 2012 8:02pm 

MANHATTAN — The homeless man who stole a floppy-eared brown-and-white rabbit from the window of a Prince Street boutique in March was released from jail Monday after pleading guilty to misdemeanor larceny and saying he regretted carrying out the hare-brained scheme. 

Thomas R. Smith was one of a pair of accused thieves who sent SoHo residents hunting for rabbits after Miss Cooper, a beloved year-old Holland lop, vanished from the shop Alexander Berardi New York.

Smith was arrested March 17 and has been in Department of Correction custody since then because he did not post his $500 bail.  Prosecutors sought a six-month sentence for him, but because he already spent three months behind bars, a Manhattan Criminal Court judge determined he had served his time.

Smith told Judge Anthony Ferrara he snatched the rabbit to impress his girlfriend, Andrea Ruggieri. 

"I was a little bit drunk and my girlfriend coaxed me towards it," said Smith, 62. "I didn't want to keep it anyway." 

Smith was released Monday, according to city Department of Correction records. 

"I regret what I did," he told reporters. 

Ruggieri, who court records say served as a lookout, was freed after appearing in court. 

Miss Cooper was taken from the 174 Prince St. boutique March 14 when an employee turned his back for a moment, as DNAinfo.com New York first reported.

The shop's co-owners Alexander Berardi and Christopher Kulukundis said they knew right away the rabbit had been stolen by the two cowboy hat-wearing regulars who were in the store at the time and were later caught red-handed on store surveillance video.

Three days later, Miss Cooper was dropped off at the 6th Precinct station house in a fish tank filled with Apple Jacks, Kulukundis said. 

Ferrara advised Smith to visit an animal shelter if he and Ruggieri wanted a pet. 

"You know, there are rescue shelters," the judge said. "If your girlfriend has a stable home, you go to a pound and you rescue one and do a good deed. You should talk to her about it."

Smith's lawyer, Jared Williams, evidently saw humor in the case.

"You can say the judge called it a hare-y situation," he told reporters.