Dr. Mahadeo shown with the top part of the prison outfit he wore at Rikers.
[Commentary: Speaking Truth To Power]
A Queens doctor who was thrown in jail by a vindictive judge who wrongfully ordered him to pay his wife’s attorney fees in a divorce case has asked the administrative judge in New York State Supreme Court to boot the judge off his case.
Judge William Viscovich of State Supreme Court in Queens County ordered Dr. Robby Mahadeo jailed for six months in Rikers Island when he objected to paying $88,000 in legal fees to Alyssa Eisner, his wife’s lawyer. The reason for his objection? The couple has a prenuptial agreement that clearly precludes such payments.
Judge Viscovich is also aware of the prenuptial agreement; in fact, he’s scheduled a May 9, 2022 trial date to determine its validity. Yet, he’s clearly already made up his mind.
Dr. Mahadeo didn’t want to go to jail. He deposited a cashier’s check of $153,000 with the clerk in Queens county—$88,000 for Eisner and the balance for his wife—in order to stay the case so his appeal could be heard. Viscovich lifted the stay and ordered Mahadeo to pay an additional $177,000. He could only raise $106,000 and he brought the money to court, hoping he’d get more time. After the money was handed to Eisner, Viscovich ordered Dr. Mahadeo to be placed in handcuffs. “He was determined to humiliate me, perhaps even have me stabbed and killed while in Rikers,” Dr. Mahadeo said, noting the media reports about such incidents of violence. “Where does such hate come from?”
Mahadeo was locked up in from Jan. 21 to Jan. 24, 2022. He was released after his elderly parents and his friends raised the extra money demanded by Viscovich. “This was abuse of power. By sending a non-offender to Rikers which is already over-crowded, he’s endangering the lives of correction officers and inmates,” Dr. Mahadeo said.
Spokespersons for Mayor Eric Adams and for the Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA) didn’t respond to requests for comments about the appropriateness of sending non-offenders to Rikers.
WNBC TV Channel 4 with investigative reporter Sarah Wallace also aired a report about Dr. Mahadeo’s ordeal.
In addition to filing a complaint with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Dr. Mahadeo has written to Lawrence Marks and Marguerite Grays, the Chief Administrative Judge for the New York unified courts system and the Administrative Judge for Queens County, respectively, about Judge Viscovich’s conduct.
In the complaint dated March 21, 2022, he outlined what he called “egregious conduct,” “child abuse,” “biased ruling,” and “abuse of power,” by Viscovich, whom he claims had “wrongfully become plaintiff’s advocate against me…” He added, “My arrest left me with physical trauma and significant stress from the life threatening situation I was placed in Rikers Island…”
Dr. Mahadeo says since Judge Viscovich has already shown, by his actions, that he doesn’t believe the prenup is valid, he should be removed from trying the case.
Dr. Mahadeo says Judge Viscovich should have removed himself from the case even earlier, after he hired a lawyer named John Sipsas to represent him, since the two men are friends. Sipsas declined to comment about Dr. Mahadeo’s incarceration at Rikers. When asked about his alleged friendship with the judge, in an e-mail message Sipsas said, “Regarding your allegation that Judge Viscovich and I are ‘personal friends’ that is not the case and is a grossly false statement.” A retired NYPD detective, Rudy Toolasprashad, who’s a friend and accompanied Mahadeo to a meeting with Sipsas said, the lawyer told them “…he was very good friends with this judge” referring to Viscovich.
Lucian Chalfen, spokesperson for the New York Unified Courts System, didn’t respond to a request for comment regarding the alleged friendship between Judge Viscovich and Sipsas.
Dr. Mahadeo says he can’t even directly ask the judge to recuse himself.
“Judge Viscovich has ordered that I seek permission from him before making any more filings,” Dr. Mahadeo said. “So I can’t even ask him to get off the case, without his permission. This is why I’m asking the administrative law judges to step in and have the case re-assigned.”
Dr. Mahadeo says Judge Viscovich has been pressuring him to withdraw papers he filed asking that Eisner be sanctioned. In a sworn affidavit, she’d claimed Dr. Mahadeo was properly served Viscovich’s order for the $88,000 payment. It turns out it couldn’t have been true because at the time she claims service Dr. Mahadeo was aboard a plane flying from Portugal to the U.S. and didn’t land until hours later. “The judge has threatened that he will order more attorney fees to Eisner if I don’t withdraw the motion,” Dr. Mahadeo said. Mahadeo’s case was previously handled by Judge Margaret McGowan, a friend of Viscovich’s, also in Queens county. While the case was before McGowan, Dr. Mahadeo says his wife and the attorney for the children (AFC), Rayaaz Khan, falsely accused him of feeding peanuts to his then three-year-old daughter even though she’s allergic to it. Even though Dr. Mahadeo produced hospital records showing that the child was treated for strep infection—not a reaction to peanuts since he hadn’t fed her any—McGowan, without an investigation or trial, stripped him of the 50-50 parental custody the couple had.
So since 2017, Mahadeo hasn’t seen his older children, a daughter and son now ages 19 and 17. Viscovich has granted him twice-a-month weekend visits with the youngest daughter, now eight years old; the one he allegedly tried to kill with peanuts. “If Viscovich was interested in uniting children with parents the first thing he should have done was to hold a trial about the false peanuts allegations. Of course this would mean sanctions against my wife and Khan for this big lie,” Dr. Mahadeo said. “Instead, he’s instructed Khan, who participated in the false allegations, to conduct the investigation himself. How absurd and cruel is this? Khan must be replaced for this child abuse by a new AFC.”
(As previously reported, Khan even took one of Mahadeo’s son to the Queens County DA’s office to make statements to try and get Dr. Mahadeo arrested on false criminal allegations and McGowan also reportedly testified before a grand jury while still trying the case).
It’s unlikely that Dr. Mahadeo will ever get relief from Judge Viscovich. During one hearing, according to Dr. Mahadeo, the judge said, “Even if your wife was on drugs I would not change the custody arrangements.”
Just this week, on April 19, Judge Viscovich met with Dr. Mahadeo’s son and the eight-year-old daughter. “Knowing how my wife and Khan have been manipulating the children, of course I have concerns about this meeting,” Mahadeo said.
Dr. Mahadeo’s harrowing experience has converted him into an advocate for improving conditions in Rikers.
After he was handcuffed he experienced chest pains and was taken to hospital for evaluation before being transferred to Rikers. “Entering the prison was the most traumatic experience of my life. There were dozens of inmates, mostly young African American and Hispanic males, packed closely, with no social distancing, and no masks because nobody cares about their health,” he said. “At one point there were two guards to keep an eye on about 60 inmates.”
“The helpless staff was totally overwhelmed with the volume of inmates,” Dr. Mahadeo continued. “Inmates requesting medical assistance were ignored. One inmate fell to the floor and seemed to have a seizure. He was left unattended for 10 minutes. I myself was helpless to do anything. One guard had warned me not to let the inmates, some of who were there for serious crimes, know that I was a medical doctor, for my own safety. My suit must have raised suspicion.”
A fight broke about amongst inmates and Dr. Mahadeo suffered a bruise on his right arm while trying to evade one of the melees. He also endured burning eyes and tears, when correction officers conducted a drill, using live teargas.
“The food is horrible and the City’s Department of Health would quickly shut down the cafeteria upon inspection,” Dr. Mahadeo said. “The bathroom floor had feces allover. There was no soap, sanitizers, or even toilet paper. Locked in one of these cages, I wondered how anyone can be surprised by the numerous fights between inmates at Riker’s, and violent attacks on correction officers.”
“I urge that elected officials make a tour of Rikers, although I’m sure correction officials would make a hasty cleanup before such visits. I also urge that the authorities make sure that people like Judge Viscovich don’t send people to Rikers who don’t need to be there—like me. I wish the City could deduct the cost of transporting me and incarcerating me from the judge’s paycheck.”
Note to readers: If you’ve been subjected to biased proceedings in any court by any judge and have documentation please contact [email protected] Follow me @allimadi on twitter.