Anthony Ruffo made his name on the waves, starting out in his hometown of Santa Cruz, California, and then traveling around the world enjoying the celeb surfer life. Unfortunately, along with the glamour that came with corporate sponsors and lots of attention, Ruffo began to split his focus. Not just about the waves, he began to experiment with drugs and, ultimately, developed a crystal meth addiction that is causing him problems still today.
Ruffo defines himself as a recovering crystal meth addict, but he was just brought up on charges for selling crystal meth in Santa Cruz – for the second time – and prison might be the next step. Now 48 years old, Ruffo freely admits that he once sold crystal meth for the Norteños, a street gang; whether or not he returned to his old habits of late is the current question before the court.
Says Ruffo about his prior dealings with crystal meth addiction and distribution: “In the back of my head, I was, like, I’m too deep in this game. It’s hard to pull out once you get there.”
Ruffo’s first conviction of possession of drugs for the purpose of sales came in 2005. He was sentenced to a drug addiction treatment program and put on probation. Though he said rehab helped him to stop dealing, he couldn’t quite let go of active addiction. In the summer of 2010, law enforcement raided his house and found an ounce of pure crystal meth worth about $3,000 – but Ruffo claims the drugs belonged to someone else.
Ruffo says that he’s been sober since that raid and has racked up about a year’s worth of clean time. About to face the judge and answer the charges of a second possession with intent to sell, Ruffo hopes that his good behavior and positive progress in the meantime will help him out with the court.
Says Ruffo: “Why put that in a cage? If I come into court a changed man from when I got busted and I’m showing all these positive results, why wouldn’t you want to keep that person going in that direction?”
While it sounds like a compelling argument, the opposing argument could be made that life’s actions have consequences. Ruffo may be doing well now but he allegedly did something illegal in 2010 and will need to make reparations. If he’s doing well, a stint in prison could potentially serve to strengthen that if it means continued drug addiction treatment. Some naysayers believe that his clean time is nothing more than a public relations gimmick designed to help him avoid a deserved sentence.
What do you think? If an offender performs a crime in service of maintaining an addiction and then gets treatment for that addiction, should she or he still be required to serve out a punishment for that crime? What if it’s the second or third offense? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.