“Everything you’ve heard about Rikers Island is 10 times worse than your worst nightmare.”
That’s how 57-year-old Joe Riccardi of Staten Island described his terrifying practically year-long ordeal that included a number of prolonged stays behind bars.
He was lastly launched from the place he describes as Hell on Earth Dec. thirtieth. The monetary dealer spent a complete of 181 days behind bars — not for a criminal offense — however for “willfully failing” to obey a court docket order by Staten Island Decide Lizette Colon.
She held Riccardi in civil contempt for not tearing down a 1,500 sq. foot addition to his penthouse condominium. Riccardi purchased the condominium in 2006 and has been battling with members of the board since 2016, saying he didn’t construct the extension. The board argued in court docket papers that regardless of who constructed the “illegal extension,” it’s Riccardi’s accountability to repair the issue.
The New York Metropolis Buildings Division lists an impressive violation for “work without a permit,” though the criticism doesn’t specify who allegedly did the work and when.
Decide Colon first ordered Riccardi to Rikers in Jan. 2022. He informed the I-Staff he was shackled, thrown onto a bus and brought to an consumption room the place he stayed for 12 days.
“There have been 30-35 males sitting on benches or mendacity on the ground. Folks have been going to the toilet anyplace they wished,” he stated.
He added he obtained COVID, then was placed on a bus and launched on a Queens avenue in the midst of the night time. He walked to a bar and requested the proprietor if he might name dwelling.
Riccardi says he and his spouse couldn’t discover contractors to do the work and the choose ordered him again to jail a second time. The 57-year-old informed the I-Staff a gang member attacked him and he was then put in isolation for 107 days.
When launched, Riccardi stated the household once more tried to rent contractors with out success.
“We didn’t have the $300,000 or more to remove the addition,” he stated, and the choose despatched him again a 3rd time for “his misconduct and disobedience and neglect and refusal to comply with said order.”
Riccardi suffered a head damage when the roof of the jail the place he was housed collapsed. After a short hospitalization, he was nonetheless imprisoned for a complete of 66 days, launched after lacking Christmas.
“It is mind-boggling and terrifying that this could happen to anyone. I felt like I could die at any time,” he stated. “How could a civil dispute land someone in jail with accused murderers and drug dealers?”
The Riccardis say they’d similar to to get out however can’t promote the apartment with the authorized controversy pending.
“My worst fear is I could go back a fourth time and I think that would just kill me,” he stated.
A Staten Island lawyer contacted Riccardi after listening to about his ordeal, and has provided to take the case professional bono.