“Finally it dawned on him that there was no way out,” she said. “The judges believed what we said. It was real. He would go to jail for life.”
One of his other former patients, Terrie Phoenix, said, “I take comfort in the knowledge that he now faces a different judge.”
Cruciani was first arrested in Pennsylvania in 2017, but after pleading guilty in a deal with Philadelphia prosecutors that required him to surrender his medical license, he was able to avoid jail time. The following year, he was criminally charged in Manhattan. His trial was delayed due to the pandemic, but began at the end of June this year. Following his conviction in July, he was sent to Rikers Island pending sentencing.
The prison complex, expected to close in 2027, has been struggling for decades, but the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problems as hundreds of correctional officers failed to show up for work. The lack of staff has contributed to a cascade of problems, including the basic processing of new entrants.
In the late summer of 2021, detainees were held for weeks in admission cells, including shower rooms. After visiting the prison complex, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio said one of his top priorities was to speed up the admissions process. But that process appears to have slowed down again — and a third of those who have died in city jails this year were held at the Eric M. Taylor Center.
William K. Rashbaum, Roni Caryn Rabin and Troy Closson reporting contributed.