A New York state appeals court ruled yesterday that former State Senator Guy Velella and four other released inmates must return to jail next Monday, reports the New York Times. The court unanimously upholding a mayoral panel’s order that their early release from the Rikers Island jail was illegal.
Attorneys for New York City viewed the court’s unanimous ruling as the end to a months-long effort to return the former senator, who was convicted last May in a bribery conspiracy case, to Rikers Island. Velella’s early release by a mayoral panel after he had served just three months of a yearlong sentence ignited a storm of criticism that embarrassed Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who said he had not known of the panel’s existence before it acted in the Velella case. The mayor dismissed the members of the panel and replaced them with new members who quickly ordered Velella back to jail after finding his release was illegal. Now Velella’s attorney is seeking a stay of the latest ruling to consider a further appeal. Each day that passes – whether Velella is in or out of jail – is subtracted from his sentence. If the court issues a stay, he will likely spend the rest of his sentence at his home in the Bronx.