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SDNY Judge Berman Ordered Ortiz To Odyssey House But Left Aug 6 Now He Wants Hearing

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 9 – Sammy Ortiz was sentenced to 72 months in prison by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Richard M. Berman on November 4, 2014.

Judge Berman recommended that Ortiz "receive a mental health evaluation and treatment while incarcerated," as well as participate in a substance abuse program.  

On July 16, 2020 Judge Berman held a telephone proceeding with Ortiz. Inner City Press covered it.

Ortiz was and is in crisis, it seemed.

He wanted to enroll in a 28 day residential drug treatment program, but the program, called Cornerstone, required that he be taken three other mentally-related medicines.

In essence, he faces remand to jail unless he takes these medications.

  Judge Berman asked, Do you have your meds? Ortiz' answers shifted, from that the meds were lost in his bag, to that he did not want to take them.

 His lawyers, who named all three -- Inner City Press will not -- said that one in particular, her client did not want to take. 

She committed to quarterback the process of getting Ortiz into Crossroads, since Judge Berman said he will be "out of pocket" most of next week. He told Ortiz, I'd come there myself if I could.

Ortiz said, We're known each other for years and I thank you.

 That transcript is still not in the docket, where the most recent one is from April 21.

  On October 21, there was another telephone conference, with Ortiz' (and Natalie Edwards') lawyer Stephanie Carvlin. Things got heated and another conference was set.

On May 17, 2021, Judge Berman held another proceeding. Inner City Press called in and identified itself. As Ortiz spoke in opposition to be forced into a residential treatment program, an admonition was given not to report on health, particularly mental health, issues.

 Inner City Press generally agrees - but usually the request for confidentiality is by the defendant. In this case, without here revealing more, Ortiz repeatedly said he would prefer to simple serve and finish prison time rather than be in this ongoing "court" supervision. It is his right that is at issue here, even as Judge Berman assured that he is not about punishing Ortiz.

  This is one reason Inner City Press would err on the side of transparency rather than opacity or artibrary air-brushing of what is being done in the criminal justice system.

  Said otherwise, if a defendant is detained or ordered into a location in the name of mental or other health, the issue of not reporting it is different.

 On May 25, Judge Berman held another conference and Inner City Press again covered it. Now Ortiz is set to be assessed at Odyssey House, with another call set.

On June 14, Judge Berman conducted another proceeding and Inner City Press again covered it. Sammy Ortiz had still not been found a placement. It was explained that he is on two medications - we will not name them - and that is an issue. Judge Berman expressed frustration and set another proceeding for June 22, at 10:30 am. Ortiz said he has 17 clean urines in a row.

On July 13, this: "before Judge Richard M. Berman: Evidentiary Hearing as to Sammy Ortiz held on 7/13/2021. AUSA Margaret Graham present; Defense attorney Stephanie Carvlin present... supervisee agrees to enter detox program today; Government will submit a letter on 7/14/21 re: supervisee's admittance into detox facility."

But on July 14, on a letter with "GEOFFREY S. BERMAN" on the signature block, the US Attorney's Office informed Judge Berman that "Ortiz promised to check himself into detox... Instead, he was arrested yesterday at approximately 4 pm for the sale of narcotics. His arrest number is B21-618328. The Probation Department believes that a warrant for Ortiz's arrest would be appropriate."

On July 26, this: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Richard M. Berman: Evidentiary Hearing as to Sammy Ortiz held on 7/26/2021. AUSA Margaret Graham present; Defense attorney Stephanie Carvlin present; Supervisee Sammy Ortiz present; SDNY USPO Ji'vonne Gilmore present; Court Reporter Kristen Carannante present; witness sworn for testimony; document entered into evidence (Court Exhibit A - transcript dated 7/13/21); Court orders: 1- supervisee to report to St. John's today by 4:00 pm; 2- supervisee to immediately go to Odyssey House upon release from St. John's; 3- probation to make arrangements to ensure that supervisee is accompanied from St. John's to Odyssey House; AUSA to advise Court by 5:00 today of supervisee's status at St. John's."

On August 11, the AUSA wrote that on "Friday, August 6, Ortiz was discharged from Odyssey House.. On Monday August 9, Ortiz told probation that he was in Queens, but did not provide an address. At approximately 4 a.m. on August 10, Ortiz texted that he was in a program, but did not provide a name or address."

Next, a no-show: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Richard M. Berman: Telephone Conference as to Sammy Ortiz held on 8/24/2021. AUSA Andrea Griswold present; Defense attorney Stephanie Carvlin present; USPO SDNY Ji'vonne Gilmore present; No appearance by supervisee Sammy Ortiz; Court Reporter Alena Lynch present; warrant for Sammy Ortiz continues; next conference/hearing is scheduled for 9/15/21 at 9:00 am."

This amid other successes in supervision, here.

On November 9, 2021, Judge Berman held another status conference with Sammy Ortiz. His counsel Stephanie Carvlin said she wants a hearing, a focused on Specifications 10 and 15, relating to state charges.

 Judge Berman said he preferred that the next proceeding be another status conference. It is set for December 2, at 9 am.

Inner City Press will continue to follow and report on this case.

The case is US v. Ortiz, 13-cr-687 (Berman)


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