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SDNY US Attorney Misstated Covid Risk Status of Rivas Now No Notice To Victims As MS-13

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
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SDNY COURTHOUSE, Dec 3 – What happens when the US Attorney's Office misrepresents the high-risk status of an inmate in the Metropolitan Detention Center and a Federal Judge replies on it to deny release, amid the Coronavirus pandemic?

  The question is raised by Inner City Press as to Kelly Rivas - not sua sponte, but based on this letter by Assistant US Attorney Danielle R. Sassoon:

" April 9, 2020 BY ECF The Honorable Paul A. Engelmayer United States District Judge United States District Court Southern District of New York 40 Foley Square New York, N.Y. 10007 Re: United States v. Kelly Rivas, 19 Cr. 529 (PAE) Dear Judge Engelmayer:

Although the Court’s April 9, 2020 Order denying the defendant’s motion for bail states that it is not premised on the Government’s argument that “Ms. Rivas has not established that she is in a high-risk category with respect to COVID-19,” the Government nonetheless writes to clarify a misimpression potentially created by its April 8, 2020 opposition to the defendant’s motion for bail.

The Court’s order noted that “[i]t does not appear . . . that [the defendant] has been designated by the Bureau of Prisons as being at high-risk with respect to COVID-19.” Dkt. No. 26.

The defendant, however, was included on the MDC’s high-risk list. After receiving the MDC’s list, the Government requested the defendant’s MDC medical records on March 31, 2020, and they were provided that day. Because it was not apparent from the defendant’s medical records, the Government asked the MDC on March 31, 2020 for more information about why the defendant was deemed “high-risk.” The Government did not receive a response. The Government also discussed the defendant’s medical conditions with defense counsel. Based on the available information—and despite the defendant’s inclusion on the MDC “high-risk” list—the Government concluded that there was an insufficient basis to deem the defendant at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19. Respectfully submitted, GEOFFREY S. BERMAN United States Attorney  By: /s/ Danielle R. Sassoon Danielle R. Sassoon/ Hagan Scotten/ Daniel G. Nessim Assistant United States Attorneys."  

This letter came AFTER Judge Paul A. Engelmayer ruled that "It does not appear, however, that she has been designated by the Bureau of Prisons as being at high-risk with respect to COVID-19... The Court denies Ms. Rivas’s application for release."

Wait - "does not appeal" based on a mis-statement?

 On December 3, Judge Engelmayer held another proceeding Kelly Rivas. The question arose whether the US Attorney's Office had informed victims. The answer was no, that the victims with MS-13 members, some of them under investigation. Inner City Press tweeted it, here.

The case is US v. Rivas, 19-cr-529 (Engelmayer).


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