Dozens of NYC inmates back in jail after coronavirus release
Dozens of inmates freed from city jails over fears they were vulnerable to the coronavirus have wasted no time plaguing the city with new crimes, The Post has learned.
At least 50 of the 1,500 inmates cut loose amid fears of the spread of COVID-19 behind bars in recent weeks have already landed back in jail — and in some cases were set free yet again, according to police sources and records.
The re-offenders — just over 3 percent of those released — include a Rikers Island inmate initially jailed for allegedly setting his girlfriend’s door on fire and choking her mother, who was released early only to return to the Bronx apartment and allegedly threaten to kill the whole family.
Another prisoner who is accused of assaulting a Department of Homeless services officer and was later set free was arrested for punching an agency sergeant just two days after his release, records show.
Yet another, who was serving a 60-day sentence for theft, was charged with burglarizing Queens’ Singh Farm grocery store to the tune of more than $9,000 three weeks after his early release.
“Obviously, I’m not feeling good about it,” store owner Deepti Khurana said of the release. “You release him early and you leave him open to go and rob more people. No, I’m not completely satisfied with this thing. I’m not getting this.”
The Legal Aid Society and Bronx Defenders have been petitioning courts in the five boroughs since the outbreak of the coronavirus, arguing that inmates, particularly those who are older or have medical conditions, are more vulnerable to COVID-19 inside the confines of city jails.
On Wednesday, Legal Aid filed new petitions to release 20 more inmates, these from state prisons over the same coronavirus concerns.
“Our clients who are seriously ill or at a high risk if exposed to the virus should not face a death sentence on Rikers Island before a jury has even had a chance to judge their guilt or innocence, regardless of the charges against them,” Tina Luongo, the Legal Aid Society’s attorney in charge of criminal cases, said in a statement.
But the slew of early releases has irked some in the NYPD, who say the re-offenders are “targeting the most vulnerable victims” once they’re out.
“This is outrageous,” one police source said. “Our concern was that, you know, we really didn’t have much of a say at all. They did confer on some, but the majority of releases, we were never conferred with.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday he supported “compassionate release if we can do it safely,” and said he feared prisoners were taking advantage of the pandemic.
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city had set up a supervised release system to ease the impact of the newly released inmates.
“I’m concerned too anytime we release someone we have to make sure it’s as safe as possible,” the mayor said. “The fact is we’re going to keep doing whatever it takes to monitor these individuals.”
The majority of those sprung over the last few weeks were in on minor or non-violent crimes — but some 300 of them face violent felony charges.
Among the city’s worst repeat offenders is Darryl Naser, 25, who was rearrested five times in April alone after being released March 27, records show.
Naser, who police describe as a “transit recidivist,” was first jailed on charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen credit cards before his coronavirus-related release. He was arrested again April 1 on a burglary charge, and on April 4, April 6 and April 8 on drug possession charges.
He was released without bail each time, as he was after he was picked up yet again at the Herald Square subway station on Friday and charged with third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, court records show.
Police said he was caught stealing a purse.
Among the other inmates recently released and re-arrested is Victor Castillo, a 32-year-old Brooklyn man who has been arrested three times since being set free on March 24 — twice for criminal trespassing and once for allegedly breaking a bodega window to steal cash, police sources said.
He was released without bail Thursday and remains free, records show.
Charles Abbriano, a 53-year-old Staten Island man with a history of low-level crimes, was hit with a one-year sentence in January for several theft cases. He was released early on March 25.
The next week, Abbriano was pinched for petty larceny and released — only to be picked up again on April 9 for allegedly trying to steal a packed furniture truck with three other men in Dongan Hills, records show.
Pedro Hernandez, 45, of Brooklyn, had two violent felonies and five misdemeanor convictions on his record when police arrested him for allegedly stealing an electric bike from a basement on March 12. He was being held on $2,500 but was instead set free later that month over coronavirus concerns.
He was arrested again for allegedly burglarizing another apartment but was released again.
Daeshawn Sharperson, the 31-year-old Bronx man who admitted he torched his girlfriend’s door, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief, dodging felony charges, and got a four-month sentence. But his sentence was cut short when he was among about 100 inmates released early on March 26 over COVID-19 concerns.
Eight days later, police say, he returned to the apartment and allegedly threatened to kill the family before attacking a straphanger on two occasions. He is now being held on Rikers Island on $10,000 bail.
Wilmer Colindres, the man charged with attacking a DHS officer, was jailed on assault and harassment charges in November for the incident, court records show. While behind bars, he was hit with a new charge of forcible touching after allegedly grabbing a physician’s rear.
Nonetheless, Colindres, 39, was released on March 24, records show.
Two days later, he was charged with assaulting the sergeant and sent back to jail – only to be released again.
The 18-year-old charged with robbing Khurana’s store in Queens, Rainesh Abudin, was released early on March 20 on a “mercy petition for medical reasons” while serving a 60-day sentence and multiple pending burglary and grand larceny charges, records show.
On April 8, police said he broke in through the back door of Singh Farm and stole $9,281 from the store’s safe. He remains on the loose.
Additional reporting by Julia Marsh
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