NYPD took wrong man to court in federal guns and methamphetamine case
NYPD officers arrested a man on Rikers Island named Andrew Pagan and transferred him to federal court. last Wednesday, thinking they had the suspect in a gun and methamphetamine ring that has been operating in the city.
However, they had the wrong Andrew Pagan in custody, taking a whole day and a few angry faces to figure it out.
Confusion became the order of the day when a veteran investigator with the NYPD’s Gun Offenders Monitoring Unit, Debra Laeason, concluded that the Andrew Pagan they were looking for was in custody on Rikers Island.
Lawson and other officers went to the Anna M. Kross Center, where 26-year-old Pagan is being held, who has been being held on a weapons case in the Bronx since March of this year. They were transported to federal court in Brooklyn to appear before federal judge Vera Scanlon, according to court and Department of Correction records.
The judge presided over the arraignment Wednesday and he was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Everything seemed to be in order, when the police realized that they had mistaken Andrew Pagan.
The actual suspect, Andrew A. Pagan, was not even being held at Rikers. The officials found out where he works, seized him there on Thursday morning and took him to appear in court.
Later Thursday, Assistant US Attorney John Enright had to explain the disaster to Judge Scanlon.
He told the judge that another police detective with Lawson “reconstructed, after the arraignment, that Andrew Pagan was not in fact Andrew A. Pagan.”
“NYSID numbers [identificación del estado de Nueva York] they did not match. And then they immediately started taking corrective action,” Enright said. “In fact, it was identified that he was not on Rikers Island or otherwise incarcerated.”
“The government is extremely apologetic for this mistake,” Enright added.
The prosecutor said the reason they didn’t realize the wrong man was because another assistant US attorney was filling in for him at the arraignment Wednesday.
“There was really no way that I could have independently identified that this was not the right person,” said attorney Karume James, the federal defender who represented the wrong heathen on Wednesday.
He added that “obviously it’s up to law enforcement and the government to make sure they actually have the right person. The only documents they printed for me yesterday were just an indictment with the person’s name and charges.”
The attorney said he was able to get a report from the NYPD on Thursday that matches the photo of the real Pagan, and while the birth dates were similar, it was clear the officers had the wrong man.
Andrew A. Pagan’s attorney, federal defender Benjamin Yasser, called the process “simply a lack of due diligence.”
“I just want to mention one small fact that makes this mistake particularly inexcusable,” he said, noting that Andrew A. Pagan, who is being prosecuted in the federal indictment, was charged with the same offense in Brooklyn state court nearly a year ago. , and that you are out on bail in that case.
“In that case, if you were to check the most basic criminal records, you would see that he was released on bail. There is no way that the Andrew A. Pagan sought in this indictment could have been at Rikers,” Yasser said.
Judge Scanlon ordered the charges dismissed. The wrong Pagan was held overnight at the Metropolitan Detention Center and then sent back to Rikers.
The correct Pagan was released on $100,000 bail, who has attended each and every state court date since his arrest in December 2021. He owns two businesses, a cigarette store and a company of music production.
“Due to a clerical error, the wrong individual was removed from Rikers Island, where he was already in state custody,” the Department of Corrections said in a statement.
“When the error was discovered, the individual was returned to Rikers Island and the appropriate person was taken into custody and charged federally with distribution of a controlled substance and possession of firearms.”
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