A probationer free on bail in an assault case pleaded guilty Thursday with threatening to light victims on fire with an improvised flamethrower in Newport Beach.

Jason Dean Ruggerello was accused of making threatening comments to a woman on the evening of Sept. 30, said Heather Rangel, the public information officer for the Newport Beach Police Department.

The woman went into a nearby building and asked for someone to call police, Rangel said. When she came back outside, she saw Ruggerello return from his car with an aerosol can and a lighter in hand, and she went back into the business, at which point he fled the area, Rangel said.

Police were called about 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 on a report of a suspect with a weapon near 53rd Street and Seashore Drive, Rangel said. A victim alleged the man — later identified as Ruggerello — used an aerosol spray can and a lighter to improvise a flamethrower aimed at his face, Rangel said.

Ruggarello was free on bail at the time on felony assault with a deadly weapon and criminal threats charges stemming from a March 17 incident in Irvine, according to court records.

Ruggerello, 42, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, a count of criminal threats and a count of unlawful exhibition of a laser scope on another person, all misdemeanors.

A sentencing enhancement for committing an offense while out on bail in another case was dropped as part of a plea deal, according to court records.

Ruggerello is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

Ruggerello pleaded guilty in July 2018 to assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of brandishing a weapon and reckless driving, all misdemeanors, and was placed on three years probation in that case, according to court records.

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