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The New York City sucker-punch attack suspect released from custody on a downgraded attempted murder charge before being re-arrested for an alleged violation of parole as a convicted sex offender is expected back in court on Wednesday morning in the highly followed criminal case.
The initial release of Bui Van Phu, a 55-year-old homeless convicted sex offender, following the Aug. 12 brutal caught-on-camera unprovoked attack on 52-year-old Jesus Cortes in the Bronx brought backlash to New York’s criminal justice system under its controversial bail reform laws and liberal prosecutors.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who’s received staunch criticism from her Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin for refusing to repeal cashless bail, intervened in the case upon learning of Bui’s release, instructing corrections officials to expedite an investigation into whether he violated terms of parole.
Bui, who is again being held at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island prison complex, is expected in court for a violation of parole hearing at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
NYC SUCKER-PUNCH SUSPECT BACK AT RIKERS ISLAND AFTER RELEASE ON NO BAIL FOR DOWNGRADED ATTEMPTED MURDER
At the preliminary hearing in Brooklyn, an administrative law judge will determine if the parole officer has provided sufficient probable cause to keep Bui remanded or if the defendant should be restored to community supervision. Surveillance camera video released by the NYPD last week shows the Vietnamese immigrant, reported to be part of a street gang, walking out of a restaurant and without provocation punching Cortes from behind in the head, leaving the Mexican immigrant in a coma.
Bui’s parole officer, Nixa Rivera, told a judge on Saturday that Bui “continues to be an imminent threat to the community.” Regardless of the outcome Wednesday, there will be a final hearing within the next 90 days to determine either for how long Bui would stay remanded due to the parole violation or make a final determination to restore the inmate to community supervision or to remand him.
After Bui’s initial release, the governor also said she contacted Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark after the attempted murder charge against Bui was downgraded to third-degree assault and second-degree harassment – misdemeanor offenses that are not bail-eligible crimes under the bail reform legislation enacted by Hochul’s former boss, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the start of 2020.
Wednesday’s hearing is independent of the Bronx DA’s criminal charges and their office is not involved, and prosecutors from Clark’s office are not required to be in attendance.
Bui was convicted in 1995 for the sexual abuse of a 17-year-old girl whom he did not know the year prior. He was sentenced to six years behind bars and a lifetime of parole.
He was arrested on Aug. 17 — five days after the knock-out beating of Cortes, who suffered a skull fracture, broken cheek and brain bleeding.
The next day, however, Bui was released on $0 bail on the downgraded assault charges, garnering public outcry from the victim’s family. He was re-arrested Friday on a parole violation. After a required recognizance hearing, Judge Maldonado-Cruz remanded Bui into the custody of the New York City Department of Correction. He is held at the Eric M. Taylor Center on Rikers Island.
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said that its officers are “required to conduct a thorough investigation before taking someone into custody for an alleged parole violation,” according to a statement obtained by Fox News. “Officers cannot act unilaterally, even when they have information that an individual has committed another crime.”
“In this case, the assigned parole Officer (PO) recognized Bui from the Crime Stoppers video and alerted the NYPD. Shortly thereafter, Bui called his PO and made admissions, and his PO directed Bui to turn himself into the NYPD,” the statement said. “A judge released Mr. Bui on his own recognizance.”
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“Given this information, DOCCS was in the process of an investigation and expedited efforts at the direction of the Governor,” it continued. “After that comprehensive review, DOCCS issued a warrant and took Mr. Bui in custody. A judge remanded him to New York City Department of Correction custody based on the agency’s work. DOCCS will continue with the parole revocation process and cooperate with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office as it prosecutes the assault charges.”