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 It was a one off slap on the wrist type of punishment. If hell can ever be called that.

 Rikers is a third world country in the middle of the most sophisticated city in the world. People who have never been can never understand or even imagine. Whatever you read about it or see on TV is fluff compared to the reality of it.

 I've been toying with how to go about doing this. If you've read some of my posts in other threads there are hints of how I ended up at Rikers. 

 Part of my hesitation to share relates to one individual here who at one point tried to use my story to threaten me (i.e. he threatened to post details, which are readily available online, but nonetheless embarrassing) because he disagreed with my opinions.
 I'm in a better place now where I no longer fear the truth that is my story being leaked. There is much to be learned from my experience, besides the TR that I've been asked to write.
 There are others here (at least one that I know about) who have been to prison. Their incarceration was longer than mine, from what I gather. Their experiences and recovery from those experiences are different than mine. So what I share is very personal and my own experience only. If you've had your own experience there is no use in trying to compare.
 I dont know how long it will take me to share my story. But I figured its friday at least let me tease it a bit...

 Let me start by saying this. I did not wake up one morning and decide that today I was going to commit the crime that I committed. It was a slow descent into moral corruption that came from a place that I am still exploring.

 I had as regular an upbringing, in a frum household, as can be expected. Went to yeshiva. Never had any real issues. Was an average student. Left yeshiva after 3 years in Bais Midrash and got married. Went to work and to college at night. Graduated college with an accounting degree, but worked in the legal field throughout. Went to Law school and was an average student.   

 Before I proceed, whatever crimes I may mention here are beyond their statute of limitations or have already been prosecuted. So I am aware of the consequences.

 Graduating from Law School I started working for a small firm. I left after 9 months to start my own practice. I was very successful. In 2007 I saw the real estate market (and my business) slow down significantly. In looking for new revenue streams I found day trading in stock and options market with its unbelievable volatility. With millions of dollars sitting flowing through my escrow accounts it was easy to "borrow" from my clients without their knowledge to play the market. That was the beginning of the end.
 On Day 1 I made 5 figures. On Day 2 I lost 6 figures. It was a chase to recoup my losses from that day forward. It was that simple. Yes, I thought I could "borrow" (read:steal temporarily and replace later) and not get caught. Day 1 gave me the taste of easy money. Day 2 gave me the need to chase replace. Whether it was a desire for financial stability or just more money, I will never know and it doesnt make a difference, as long as I never repeat the same behavior.
 "Playing" the stock market is gambling. Legal as it may be, it is the same as putting a bet on a horse, bet on a sports game, bet on the outcome of a hand of cards, throw of a die or spin of a wheel. All those are legal in certain places. So I became an addict without knowing it.
 Every moment of every day was spent raising money in trying to recoup those losses and when I did win big then it was spent seeking to replicate those wins to make more money then I needed. It was a chase up and a chase down. Along the way stealing became second nature. As long as my clients got their money when they needed it hey didnt know where it came from or that it came at the expense of other clients. 
 At some point in 2009 the real estate market dried up totally and I resorted to borrowing from people to replace the stolen monies. In the summer of 2010 I was only down 5 figures overall. All I had to do was stop right then and there and I would have been ok. Instead I was in the options market every day. I played the monthly options as well as the weekly options. One fine day I awoke to a $300k gain on a $10k bet. That was the end of me.
 All I needed to do was stop. I just couldnt. My addiction was so strong that it convinced me that I could replicate that win. In chasing that dreamI lost $1MM in less than 10 days, including over $600k of my clients money which i had misappropriated from the sale of his building and which he had entrusted me to hold until he needed it for further projects.
 Thats enough to chew before shabbos.  TR starts next week.     

 In November 2010 I bounced a check in my escrow account. That started the ball rolling. The bank automatically contacted the Grievance Committee which handles ethics complaints against lawyers. I knew I was in trouble. The client threatened to have me arrested. I sought legal advice from some of the biggest names in the criminal defense field.

 A family member suggested i go to a Gamblers' Anonymous meeting. I went and immediately felt at home.
 Contrary to popular belief it takes a long time for them to disbar attorneys. I didnt get suspended until January 2012. I was disbarred in January 2013.
 I was arrested in March 2012. They didnt just arrest me. They sent 3 NYPD detectives to knock on my door. My wife answered and I wasnt home. We had always had a contingency plan if/when i was arrested. She contacted an attorney and he advised me how to turn myself in.

 I turned myself in on a Thursday afternoon at 1pm at the DAs office. This was Thursday before my oldest son's bar mitzvah shabbos.

 They immediately frisked me, vouchered the stuff in my pocket and locked me in a bare room with a door handle and lock on the outside only. They explained what was to happen over the next few hours.
 I was fingerprinted. They sent my fingerprints to Albany to make sure i wasnt wanted on other charges. They said I would need to go to Central Booking to have my picture taken and then to court. If i didnt get this done before 3:30 then i would be spending the night, at a minimum, in jail.
 My prints finally came back clean at around 245pm. They raced me over to Central Booking for my picture taking session, handcuffed, in the back of an unmarked police car with lights and sirens.
 We couldnt go into Central Booking because a bus full of prisoners was waiting to be unloaded before we could get inside. While waiting outside an unknown voice yelled at me from the bus "David where are my diamonds?" "Where's the money?" This was my welcome to Central Booking.
 We finally got in and they took my picture. The detectives then took me over to the courthouse. Walking, hands cuffed behind my back, in the front door and through the lobby of the courthouse, past the metal detectors, into the elevators, all of which were very familiar to me, was one of the most humiliating moments in my life.
 We made it in front of the judge with minutes to spare. The DA was asking  for $400k bail. My attorney argued that i was not a flight risk as i had know about stealing the money for 18 months and hadnt fled. The judge was convinced. She let me go on my own recognizance. No bail. I had to surrender my passport though.

 After 14 months of back and forth and lawyer changes the Judge offered me a deal. Pay nothing get 1-3 years upstate. Pay $200k get 4 months remand at Rikers and then felony probation (5 years). Pay full amount get 2 months remand at Rikers and then felony probation. These were based on minimum sentences of 6 months and 4 months. I was remanded to Rikers and had a status date 34 days later where the judge would see where i was holding with restitution.


 I didnt have 2 nickels to rub together. Enter
מיכעמךישראל. Some people in shul and my Rov took it upon themselves to raise money. The person agreed to accept a sum for now and wait for the rest later. The money was raised and paid before i went in.

 All my decisions were run through GA people and I had support with me at every court appearance. When i was remanded i asked the Court officer to please not handcuff me in front of my wife and he was kind enough to comply. I was taken out a side door in the courtroom and placed in a holding cell right outside the courtroom.

 Court officers searched my pockets and basically described what would happen over the next few hours. I took pocket-sized siddur, chumash bamidbar and mesilas yesharim

 Figired it was about time ro get acquainted with that book.

with me along with a handful of candies. I was allowed to keep these items.

 There is a person, who single handedly does for inmates what all these supposed prisoner advocacy organizations combined dont do. I had met him on the way to court and gave him my tallis and tefillin. He arranged for the chaplain to get it to me the next day.

 More on him later.

 I dont recall whether we went up or down in an elevator. I believe it was down to holding cell area where i was turned over to Dept. Of Corrections officers by the court officers. They searched me again and had me sit on a metal detecting chair.

 I ws placed in a cell for new admissions. I was the only one in there at the time. The cell started filling up one by one. There were mutiple cells with different sets of initials above their doors. I didnt know the import of those initials until later. There was screaming and there were fights going on. Spitting and cursing at the guards was normal.
 I had grown my beard from pesach until after shavuos when i went in so i was the "Rabbi" to anyone that came into my cell. I had also rehearsed a cover story about mortgage fraud and some scheme to hide the truth if anyone asked.

 As the cell filled up some low level drug dealer from Utica and Eastern Parkway started asking me questions. I offered him a candy and we chatted. He had obviously done this before so i had a heads up on what was gonna happen over the next 12 hours.

 What was the going through your head at this point in time?


 Survival mode. I couldnt believe it was actually happening. It was surreal. I honestly dont recall what I was thinking other than one minute at a time. The fear was there.

 I knew some basic rules. Dont look anyone in the eye. Mind your own business. Keep yoir head down. Dont offer info. Bribe if you can. And make yourself indispensable.

 During my time in the holding cell in the courthouse they served food. Of course I couldnt eat any of it, not that it was edible. In prison they make bread without yeast. Yeast is an essential ingredient in making alcohol. They dont want the prisoners making hootch. So the bread is made with milk. They had a guy tossing bologna sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches into the cell. I took one just to give to someone else as a small bribe. They also tossed a few single serve cereal bags into the cell. We had water from the sink in the bathroom.

 The cell started filling up. We had probably 20 inmates in the cell. The cell was maybe 15'x15'. with benches along the walls. There was also an exposed bathroom with a half wall on each side in case you needed one. To flush the toilet you press a small button. Will try and post pics of what they look like. Have pics from NY Police museum of similar toilets. One of the guys in the cell sat himself on the half wall and played a game of ring toss...he would take cheerios into his mouth and see if he could spit them into the toilet bowl.
 I was shmoozing with my newfound buddy and watching all of this out of the corner of my eye. Another guy joined our conversation as well. I the hallway between the cells I saw them leading people out of the other cells. There was a black guy with a big black Yarmulke ?!?! who yell "Shalom" at me. A Russian in another cell yelled, "Vos Machstu". Surreal.
 We were held there until about 6pm. They were emptying cells one by one and we were one of the last, if not the last one to be emptied. It turns out that all the other cells were from different buildings/facilities at Rikers and thats what the initials over each cell stood for.

 Short Installment Have PTA tonight.

 Around 6pm we were escorted out two by two. Each of us was cuffed to the other. My right hand to someone's left hand. Who do I get cuffed to...the guy who was playing the cheerios toilet game. Total mental case. We get taken down to the buses which were parked in the basement of the Courthouse.
 The buses are those ubiquitous white Corrections buses you see all over NY, especially if you've flown into LGA as Rikers is the next exit off the Grand Central Pkwy. They are school buses with either the front half or back half with windows and the other half just sheet metal panels. The brand new admissions, of which I was, were given choice seats, without windows, in our own cage that surrounds each of the seats up front. So it was me and mental case in a cage together for the ride to Rikers in rush hour traffic.
 The back was reserved for returning inmates and was just one big open area walled off with a gate. I'm a bit claustrophobic. Sitting in a cage, in a hot bus, in the basement of the courthouse with the bus spewing its fumes was very challenging. I had to summon all my courage not to have a panic attack. I just told myself to breathe normally and this will be over soon. We spent an hour or so driving to Rikers.
 My arrival at Rikers evoked in my mind the stories I've read and heard of the roundups in Europe. Not to belittle them or even attempt to compare. (Sorry haters) It wasnt quite shouts of "Raus" but the herding mentality, the frightfully huge Corrections officers (CO's), the stench, the grime. Yuck. I had truly never seen such large human beings. Men and women whose width and girth were just gargantuan. Average height but wider than any linebacker by a factor of 2, and thicker too. Scary.

 Processing meant all of us plus another 2 or 3 bus loads crammed in a cell and called by name to take pic for ID and fingerprints. We were then transferred into a larger cell. While the processing went on an alarm sounded and we were on lockdown. Guards, known as "turtles", and they looked like Ninja Turtles with umpire padding, baseball helmets and football facemasks, with batons, went around a bend and we heard a commotion. Some inmate was misbehaving and being violent. They got that under control rather quickly and it was back to processing.

 They vouchered my jacket and took my watch. I got a piece of paper with my classification. It was a low classification based on my crime and my priors. I was placed in another cell with about 60 inmates and thats when the fun started. When I say cell I mean the type you see in the old Westerns. Dank, decrepit you dont want to touch any surface with an exposed hand, open air toilet. 
 All night I'm hearing "who has a battery?" A guy in a single cell across from us passes a AA battery across the floor right behind a guards back under the bars. The next thing I know there is a guy sitting over the toilet and the toilet is surrounded by a few guys while others are distracting the guards. One guy reaches up to an electrical outlet where a clock used to be hung and uses the battery, a paperclip and some toilet paper to start a small fire. Meanwhile the guy over the toilet pulled a packet/condom out of...yeah. The joints were then distributed and lit.   

 Processing cell was open cell. Very dangerous and volatile. Floor sleepers and bench sleepers. I had a seat on the bench near my buddy from CH. Made friends with some Trini credit card fraud guy and a Mexican Dreamer who I later found out was in for (attempted) rape. Thank goodness for that. In middle of the night some Black Israelite started lecturing me on him being the real Jew and me being Jew-ish. My new buddies told him to knock it off. 

 My ultimate lock ups were open dorm-like rooms. More on that later.
 At some point we were strip searched and went through metal detector chairs again. Most degrading experience ever. Strip in front of 3 guards. Squat turn your head and cough. I'd love to forget that and every strip search after every visit.

 At some point during the night they served dinner, once again, same sandwiches as in the holding cell. I think there may have been either an orange or a banana available as well, so thats what I ate. Drinks were rubber gloves. The guy had a large cooler filled with some unknown liquid, probably punch and was handing out rubber gloves to us filled with liquid. Thats what we had to drink along with water from the bathroom sink.

 At about 4am I was taken along with 3 others to the medical clinic. I was interviewed by a nurse about any medical conditions. I was able to finally get a drink of water from a water cooler in a plastic cup. I saved that cup, the size you get in the dentists office, for a week. They took bloods and gave me an on the spot HIV test. They asked if I wanted the results and handed them to me in an envelope. I was instructed not to open the envelope until after I left because there had been cases where inmates found out they were HIV positive and attacked the nurses.
 After that we were sheparded back to a cell where they distributed a thin economy class style blanket rolled into a sheet a soap, toothpaste and a toothbrush and a plastic 20oz(?) cup with a handle. Mine had been used before. You had to know someone to get a new cup. I was also unaware that you had to ask for a heavy blanket at that time. That came into play later.
 We were escorted to the dorm at around 6am and I found a bed near the windows halfway into the room.
 The dorms were large rooms, 60' x 200'. with 3 rows of beds separated in a 1-1-1 configuration a few feet apart from each other. There were wider separations from the foot of one bed to the head of another so that there were two aisles. There was one CO stationed at a desk when you came into the room and more COs located behind glass in a "bubble". The bubble was positioned in such a fashion that 4 COs could monitor 4 dorms. It was a diamond shaped room with the dorms laid out in a windmill fashion so that the building from the air looks like a fidget spinner.     

 24 hours after I left my house I finally had my Rikers bed. Now the beds are entirely metal, including the place you would normally have springs. With a metal frame header and footer. In the great words of @Something Fishy I'm 5'14" amd the beds are 6 ft, max. So either i sleep curled up or my feet are resting on the foot bar. The mattress is vinyl filled with something, probably straw from Methuselah times. Pillows are a suicide/ homicide hazard so no pillows. Some helpful guys got me a vinyl bin for my belongings. This was used to store my clothing commissary purchases.

 I was housed in OBCC which consists of 8 dorms if I'm not mistaken. I was in 1 Upper. This is a transit dorm where new arrivals get transferred out to other dorms within a week.
 My dorm mates ran the gamut of criminals. There was the drug dealer facing 6 to life for his third high level drug deal. There was a crew of Dominicans who were also in on drug charges. A Gypsy roofer nicknamed "Weasel" who moonlit as a cat burglar. A Palestinian who was extradited from Virginia for major cigarette smuggling. "Pops" a 70+ year old with coca cola glasses who was a child molester. Basically if you read about a criminal being arrested in NYC in the NY Post or NY Daily News they were there.
[/size] Tallis and tefillin before anyone woke. Me and the Muslims were davening at the same time. That created a bond. 2 of my best friends there, Omar and Sheikh, were Muslim.

Author Topic: Prison  (Read 398290 times)

Offline Yo ssi

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Re: Prison
« Reply #1940 on: August 12, 2021, 11:38:59 PM »
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Re: Prison
« Reply #1941 on: March 04, 2024, 12:08:33 AM »
Started this thread last night and just finished  ;D

Kept me glued to my screen. Thank you @hvaces42 !

My  prizes from CV :)