A man arrested by East Hampton Town police on a charge of felony criminal mischief, Jose Torres, also known as William Wilfredo Janders-Rodriguez, is going to be deported back to his native El Salvador. That much seems certain from the court documents.
The only question facing Torres and the United States government is whether the 42-year-old should spend up to 20 years in federal prison before he is deported.
Torres, 42, who is accused by East Hampton police of smashing up the dashboard of a car parked in front of a Morris Park Lane residence last November, told East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana through his attorney, Matt D’Amato from the Legal Aid Society during his arraignment Friday, July 6, that he currently lives in Shirley, but has previously lived in Patchogue, Mastic, and East Moriches. He told the court that he has spent most of his adult life on Eastern Long Island.
During that period, he spent six years in New York State prison after assaulting and robbing a victim at knifepoint in Suffolk County in 1995. He also was sentenced in 2013 to 57 months in federal prison after being found guilty in court in Central Islip of being a violent felon who re-entered the country illegally after being deported by a court order.
One would also have to discount the time, though apparently not much, he has spent in his native land after being deported in both 2002 and again in 2015.
In 1996, Bill Clinton was president, crime was dropping across the country, and the man named Jose Torres was convicted of two felonies, armed robbery, and attempted armed robbery. He was sentenced to five-and-a-half to 11 years in state prison. While in prison, he was charged with and convicted of either smuggling in or possessing a dangerous weapon.
In 2002, George W. Bush was president. His government was in the process of organizing the Department of Homeland Security, following the attack of 9-11. That would lead, the following year, to the creation of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Torres was paroled and, pre-ICE, was turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He was taken to Houston, from where he was, it appears, returned to El Salvador.
In January 2011, Barack Obama was president. ICE was setting records for the numbers it was deporting. Torres, now going by Janders-Rodriguez, was back in this country. He was arrested by Suffolk County police, charged with a misdemeanor, obstruction of breathing. ICE and the Justice Department took an interest in Janders-Rodriguez. While it was unusual at the time to prosecute someone for re-entering the country after the execution of a court order of deportation, the exception was in cases where the alien had previously been convicted of a violent crime in the U.S.
Torres’s history of violence led the Justice Department, under then Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to seek and obtain an indictment.
After two years of legal wrangling, during which time Janders-Rodriguez sought, unsuccessfully, to have his court-appointed Federal Defender Tracy Gaffey removed as his counsel, Janders-Rodriguez agreed to plead guilty, in exchange for the 57-month sentence. It is not clear how much of that time he actually served, but he was deported after his sentence ran its course.
In September of last year, again using the name Torres, he was in the passenger seat of a 2017 Toyota 4Runner which was rear-ended by another car in an accident at the traffic light at Newtown Lane and Main Street in East Hampton Village. Torres gave police a false name, the driver of the car later said. When the insurance company of the Toyota’s owner declined to cover the accident, the driver contacted the man she knew as Torres and asked for his help.
On November 2, 2017, she confronted Torres, despite the fact that she could see he was intoxicated, she told town police. He began screaming and punching the dashboard, repeatedly, hard enough to crack it. It was night and the owner did not realize how badly damaged the dash was. When she saw the damage the next day, she called Torres and asked him to pay for the damage. He eventually promised he would but avoided the Morris Park Lane resident.
Weeks went by. She eventually went to a Toyota dealer and was given an estimate of over $1500 to replace the dash, as well as a damaged air bag. After many weeks of trying and failing to be reimbursed for the damage, she contacted the police.
On Friday, July 6, Justice Rana told Torres or Janders-Rodriguez that he was not eligible for her to set bail, since he has been convicted twice on felony charges. Normally, Thursday would be the day he would have to be released if not indicted. However, Justice Rana said, there is a new federal indictment out of the courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Anne Shield, once again charging him with being a violent felon who has re-entered the country illegally. The maximum sentence he is facing is 20 years. He remained in county jail in Riverside as of Monday.
ICE did not return requests for comment for this article.