A New York judge gave a former mobster two days of freedom after he finished serving three years for drug trafficking charges.
Defense attorneys have argued that Jose Santoyo, who was convicted in 2009, was a scapegoat for three others who pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and conspiracy and went on to testify against him at trial.
This summer, Santoyo testified before the New York state Commission on Pardons and Parole that he was innocent of the charges against him and believes his attorney was unaware of his involvement in a drug ring.
On Friday, State Supreme Court Justice Leslie Crocker Snyder sent Santoyo home on parole. Santoyo, now 78, must report back to state parole office in Stony Brook, New York, on Tuesday and will then report back on Jan. 1, the next time his parole expires.
His attorney, Peter Darbee, said he hopes Santoyo can keep clear of the illegal drug activity that he says drove his client to drug trafficking. “He wants to get back to the normalcy of his life and live happily ever after,” Darbee said.
“He has struggled his whole life from a young age,” Darbee said.
He said Santoyo had committed a series of robberies by the time he was 30 years old and went to prison for it, but decided to come clean about his involvement in the drug ring in 2015.
“Jose was saved from the life of the drug trade because he lost everything to the drug trade,” Darbee said. “He was in and out of prison for his whole life and was cursed by having to be on the street corner selling drugs. He has a deep and abiding belief in the criminal justice system and believes that with good conduct, he can receive full parole benefits again.”
Santoyo’s associates have not been charged with drug possession or conspiracy, but the two were convicted of violating their parole.
Darbee has argued that Santoyo’s client believes his one-time associates conspired to influence his conviction.
Santoyo’s attorneys say he has been improving for the past four years. He has worked at police departments as a community outreach officer, attending pre-trial conferences to talk to the families of those in prison.
“This period of time is critical to Joe’s rehabilitation,” Darbee said. “They don’t leave jail and go back to their life of crime; they don’t just re-offend.
“Joe wants to get his life together, turn over a new leaf, go to church every Sunday and run for mayor of New York City.”
Santoyo was sentenced to 23 months in prison. He was released on parole on December 7, 2010.