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New Jersey man pleads guilty to violation after drug arrest

Peter Ronga, 39, of Barnegat, N.J., was arrested

Peter Ronga, 39, of Barnegat, N.J., was arrested Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Westbury, charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana, arraigned Thursday and given a conditional release, police said. Credit: NCPD

A New Jersey man who had been arrested in Nassau last year on drug possession charges has completed his sentence after pleading guilty to a violation, court records show.

Peter Ronga, 41, said he has been trying to clear his name after being arrested June 18 on three counts of drug possession, which he said were drugs prescribed by his doctor, and unlawful possession of marijuana.

As part of a deal, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on Oct. 7, 2014, was released and completed his one-year conditional discharge without further incident.

Ronga, a substitute teacher and soccer coach, said the arrest has made getting jobs hard because potential employers have searched his name on the Web, found stories of his arrest and rejected him for jobs.

"That has killed me," he said. "I pray to God every day that people don't judge me" on one arrest.

He said he, a friend and an acquaintance were going to shop at the Century 21 clothing store in Westbury and had just parked when police arrested them. Officers saw the three men make a drug sale in a car and arrested them, Nassau police said.

Ronga denied there was a drug sale.

Friends and those who knew him before the arrest have given him work and help, said Ronga, now working as a car salesman.

Earlier this month, the New Jersey education department sent him a letter qualifying him to be a substitute teacher, he said.

Ronga said he's at a "turning point in his life."

"The one thing I don't want people to think is I was a bad person," he said, "because of one incident and one item on the Internet."

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