In 2014, a man named Aitabdel Salem spent 5 months in jail, unaware that his bail was 2$. pic.twitter.com/pqyt5wBlo0— Seriously Strange (@SeriousStrange) April 11, 2017
A man was jailed for five months without knowing his bail was just $2. Now he wants his lawyers and the city to pay up for their negligence.
Aitabdel Salem was jailed on Rikers Island on Nov. 21, 2014, after he was accused of attacking a police officer who charged him for stealing a coat from Zara’s clothing store. He was also arrested for prior tampering and mischief charges.
His bail was initially set at $25,000 for both cases, but on Nov. 26, his judge dropped the initial case’s bail to just $1 after Salem failed to appear in court. He also ruled Salem free on Nov. 28. However, Salem’s lawyers failed to inform him of the new development.
The case for tampering and mischief went to court a few months later on Feb. 11 when, once again, Salem’s lawyers failed to produce him to the judge. Prosecutors were unable to make an indictment within the specific time limit, so the charges on the man were dropped, and the judge once again reduced the bail to $1.
Coupled with the first bail amount, Salem owed only $2 for his freedom.
But as before, his legal aids failed to inform him of the fact. Months later, a prison chaplain finally paid his bail on April 15, 2015, and Salem was set free.
Now, the man is suing.
“Mr. Salem implored corrections officers within [Rikers Island] to tell him what happened on his respective court dates,” the lawsuit states. “None of the corrections officers told him that he was ordered to be free on Nov. 28, 2014, because his bail had been reduced [to] $1.” The suit also stated that Salem’s “unrelenting pleas” went ignored.
The complaint also said his lawyers waived his appearance and allowed the proceedings to go on in his absence.
Salem is now serving four-and-a-third to five years in state prison over felony assault and criminal tampering charges. His bail is now set at $300,000.