Manhattan, NY- He’s facing nearly 100 years behind bars. Now he’s free on the streets, thanks to New York’s state bail reform law that will take effect on January 1.
Police say 47-year-old José “Catano” Jorge of the Bronx is a high level drug dealer. As he walked out of Manhattan Supreme Court this week without spending a penny in bail, he screamed to the waiting crowds in Spanish:
“Cuomo for president!”
Up until this week, he’s been held without bail while facing up to 96 years on charges of selling a controlled substance and conspiracy.
But now, for the duration of his trial, he can now walk free.
He’s one of almost 900 inmates set to be released in late 2019. The stated mission is to help courts avoid a logjam when bail reform formally kicks in next year.
Police say Jorge peddled the drugs tied to the fatal overdose of a 28-year-old man. It happened at a York Avenue diner on the Upper East Side in January 2018.
Police set up a sting, and that’s where he was busted. The move was made after police said they linked him to fentanyl-laced heroin found at the scene.
According to authorities, they set up a wiretap and had an undercover agent buy drugs from Jorge.
The prosecutor in the case had begged the judge to keep Jorge behind bars based on the amount of evidence against the defendant and the severity of the charges.
“His sales are recorded on video. The conversations the defendant had during those sales are chilling,” Assistant District Attorney Nancy Frigo wrote to Judge Abraham Clott.
That’s according to a report in The Post.
“He described in detail how he likes to mix fentanyl into the heroin. Laughed off an accusation of causing someone’s death, and explained that overdoses are actually good for business because then everyone wants what he is selling.”
Three other co-defendants also walked free Thursday – in spite of the fact that they previously were considered worthy of remand.
His co-defendant, Jose Feliciano, was also released, pending sentencing after taking a plea deal. If he had refused the plea deal, he too would have walked free under the new bail-reform terms.
A woman joined Feliciano as he left court. She gave the finger to a Post reporter and said:
“Outside, I beat bitches up like you.”
Nearly 900 incarcerated people in New York City could be celebrating Christmas early courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a plan to quietly free them before the state’s bail-reform law goes into effect next year.
A spokesperson for Cuomo said:
“Fearmongering aside, we understand there are concerns about implementing these landmark reforms and we believe it must be done appropriately and effectively.”
New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services released data in October of 2018 that shows the recidivism rate in New York is right at 66%. That means that, of the 880 inmates expected to be released early in NYC, 581 of them are most likely going to end up committing additional crimes after there release.
It is understandable to be concerned over the latest pro-criminal legislation coming out of New York. That concern does not equate to fearmongering; it equates to common sense.
Just in case early release wasn’t enough of a gift, Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising to follow up with even more presents for these accused criminals, by giving them free baseball tickets, movie passes and gift cards to encourage them to return to court, sources familiar with the program said.
“You’re literally rewarding them for committing a crime,’’ said a disgusted senior staffer in Manhattan Criminal Court.
And we all know how well conditions of release are followed. What the Mayor is about to find is that he bought a bunch of gifts for people that will not show up for their court dates. Some could potentially sell their tickets and then no-show.
The proposed early jail release is associated with a law that Cuomo signed in the spring to eliminate bail for defendants charged with a number of misdemeanor and felony crimes.
The more than 400 offenses include such heinous acts as criminally negligent homicide, aggravated assault on a child under 11 and selling drugs on or near school grounds, according to a memo being circulated by prosecutors across the state and obtained by The New York Post.
The law goes into effect Jan. 1 but it will be retroactive — meaning inmates who are already locked up on such cases can apply to have their bail lifted and to be freed.
In the Big Apple, court officials estimate that 880 prisoners — about 16 percent of all pretrial detainees housed by the Department of Correction — will be eligible for the get-out-of-jail-free cards.
To avoid a deluge of applications in the new year, the state Office of Court Administration has held a series of conferences where officials outlined four ways for judges to deal with the new law, according to a source familiar with the situation.
One proposal would allow judges to issue pre-emptive orders that “comply with the new statute before its effective date,” the source said — and the OCA is already prepping for the move.
OCA spokesman Lucian Chalfen said court and city officials had “begun the unprecedented process of discharge planning and developing the complex logistical process of releasing those defendants.”
You want to know why it is unprecedented? It’s because it is stupid. It has never been done before because most people use logic and common sense, and understand what a catastrophe this type of initiative will be.
“To that end, a plan is being developed to stagger the release of defendants starting in mid-December,” Chalfen said. “If a judge, however, feels that it was necessary to make certain [release] orders effective Jan. 1, they certainly retain the discretion to do so.”
The other options discussed at the conferences include taking a wait-and-see approach, scheduling Jan. 2 hearings for everyone who applies — or issuing release orders that take effect on Jan. 1 or 2, the source said.
The Legal Aid Society, which provides government-funded representation for indigent criminal defendants, has instructed its lawyers to file motions on behalf of their eligible clients immediately and to seek their release as soon as possible.
Most judges “have been reluctant to go along” so far, but Legal Aid hopes that will change “with some guidance from OCA,” said Marie Ndiaye, supervising lawyer of its Decarceration Project.
“It is completely arbitrary and cruel to hold people pre-trial now who will have to be released come Jan. 1,” Ndiaye said. “Early implementation will help ensure that the Office of Court Administration and the Department of Correction are not overwhelmed, and it will also ensure that those New Yorkers being released have a discharge plan and are connected to services that they need.”
State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Geneva) was less than pleased upon learning about the early-release plan.
“Any attempt to accelerate this process makes a bad situation even worse, threatens public safety and is a disservice to law-abiding citizens,” he said. “With every law that New York Democrats roll back, our streets become less safe. Their platform that caters to convicts and protects hardened criminals puts the rest of us in danger.”
What happens when the pre-trial offenders are back on the street?
For starters, they get to take in a Mets game as the guests of the city, the Mayor and the not-for-profit Criminal Justice Agency, will be offering tickets and gift cards to ensure that inmates who get sprung don’t skip their court dates, sources said.
A law-enforcement source noted that the tickets would be for the Mets — whose games are in considerably less demand than the Yankees, thus less expensive.
It’s unclear how much taxpayer money will be spent on the rewards, which echo an earlier de Blasio program that offered low-level criminal defendants $15 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to fill out questionnaires about their experiences in court.
That criminal-incentivizing initiative cost taxpayers $800,000.
NYPD cops were outraged over the perks being offered to alleged criminals.
“It is bad enough that [suspects] have to be reminded [to show up to court], but to be rewarded is ludicrous,’’ a Queens cop griped.
A Brooklyn officer said of the baseball games:
“What do the victims get — to watch it on TV?’’
A Brooklyn cop added:
“What does that say about the Mets? Are Yankees tickets reserved for murderers? I am sure it will only be a matter of time before they get out on ‘no bail’ too.”
A rep for the mayor’s office said in an e-mail to The Post on Sunday, that the city has a “nationally recognized, award-winning Supervised Release program’’ which “has produced consistently high rates of return to court, which we expect will continue after the State law goes into effect.”
In case you missed it… here’s a letter we shared over the weekend from an NYPD officer to Mayor de Blasio: “We’re done with your lies and abuse.”
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
I just wanted to take a minute to say, “ENOUGH!”
You can publicly deny the allegations all you want, but I might just have a bad back from moving your daughter’s furniture out of her apartment and I know which gas stations are at which exits between Manhattan and Yale. So, let me tell you what you can do with your denials.
I went to the academy. I learned a lot of things while I was there.
I qualified on my weapon. I learned how to de-escalate volatile situation. I know the penal code.
I have spent time in multiple units, doing several years in traffic, moving to investigations as a detective. I have time with SWAT. I have been undercover. I have been a patrolman and a sergeant. I have been a supervisor.
And in all those roles, I have read and understood the job description. And nowhere does it state that I am responsible for moving your daughter’s furniture or chauffeuring your son back and forth to New Haven, CT, because he didn’t want to take the train.
Yet, here are some of the things that you deny doing.
About driving your son, you said:
“I never ordered anyone to do anything.”
I beg to differ. None of us volunteered to do it.
The drive from downtown New York City up to New Haven, Connecticut doesn’t take more than a few hours, but it’s a frustrating drive – especially considering the hefty amount of traffic running along I-95. But it’s not the mileage that’s the issue — it’s an abuse of power.
Sources close to the you told Daily News that you absolutely ordered us to drive his son back and forth between the city and Yale University during his first years at the school.
In fact, the Department of Investigation is looking into whether the allegations might be true.
“I think that story is just unfair and inaccurate in so many ways,” you continued.
You think that because your son is, well…your son, that he has a greater potential of becoming a target.
“Dante was a protectee of the NYPD … There have been threats against him. There have been threats against my family,” you also said.
I joined the NYPD to serve and protect the citizens and guests of New York City, not to be your personal assistant.
I am done running your errands.
And just so you don’t think I am simply letting you off the hook for making officers ferry your son to his Ivy League classes, I want to remind you of the fact that you had us come in and move your daughter.
Remember last summer when we were instructed to act as a moving company for your daughter, Chiara? Remember how she had been living in an apartment at 4th Street at 56th in Brooklyn for approximately two years? Remember how the time came to relocate, instead of calling a private company, you called NYPD to do the heavy lifting. You used detectives and department vehicles on city time to move your daughter.
Not only were officers put to work, in a gross abuse of city resources, but two unmarked Sprinter vans that belong at City Hall were used to collect her personal possessions and transport them to Gracie Mansion? And do you also recall how your wife and First Lady, Chirlane McCray, personally directed our crew?
Breaking news, Your Honor. We don’t work for Chirlane.
Oh, by the way, she instructed us to leave a number of Chiara’s belongings abandoned on the city sidewalk. Dumping and littering is a chronic problem in this city.
A supervisor once told me that we cannot question you.
“It’s all just part of the job. We just do it out of respect.”
And by the way, that $400 bullet-proof vest you borrowed back on 2016 for the comedy sketch you did with the cast of The Wire, we are still waiting to get that back. That is a vest we could put on a cop working the streets.
You do not care about members of law enforcement. And now, your actions (or lack thereof) are becoming a danger to the police.
Perhaps you missed it when former NYPD police chief Louis Anemone was interviewed by Fox, but he criticized you for your treatment of those who hold the thin blue line. For your benefit, here is what he said:
“He does not have their back. I firmly believe that he does not have their back.”
He also said the recent blatant disrespect for New York officers regarding the water bucket assaults would have never happened under the watch of former mayor Rudy Giuliani. He not only had a pulse on the city, he also had our backs.
“It’s disgraceful,” Anemone continued. “He’s the chief executive of this city of New York, the largest city in this country. He has not taken the lead for security, for public security, and for supporting the police. He’s been behind, way behind.”
Mr. Mayor, your actions and attitude toward this police force have bred contempt and hostility in the streets. You are partly to blame for the water assaults.
Yet, we will do what wey need to do in order to maintain control, regardless of what the public will say afterward.
I wish this was all we had on you; but let me continue.
I want to personally thank you for repeatedly warning your son about the “dangers of police brutality.”
“I have had to have very, very serious talks with my son, Dante, about how to protect himself on the streets of our city and all over our country, including how to deal with the fact that he has to take special caution because there have been too many tragedies between our young men and our police.”
Those were your words Mayor.
Even with your belief that we all have a proclivity for violence aimed at innocent young men of color, you still put him in the car with us for the numerous drives to and from New Haven. That leads me to ask: do you even care what happens to your son?
And let’s not forget, you skipped out on a dedication for fallen heroes so that you could go to the gym and drink your morning coffee.
Then you he missed Luis Alvarez’s wake, a 9/11 hero, in order to focus on your joke of a Presidential campaign.
Just so you don’t think I am alone in that belief, one of your administrative staffers said,
“It’s a joke. I think that he knows that he can’t win. It’s just a lot of eye-rolling … He’s doing it because he’s got a big ego and needs to prove something, and I don’t think he’s going to quietly go away and become an adjunct professor at Hunter.”
I will continue to serve and protect, because I love this city and I love what I do.
But you, I have no respect for you. But if you need me to do something for you and your family, that is actually within my job description, then I will be there.
A former ‘personal assistant’ to Mayor Bill de Blasio