ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The suspect accused of attacking Congressman Lee Zeldin — 43-year-old David Jakubonis — will remain in custody after a federal hearing on Thursday.
Jakubonis, a Fairport resident, faces an attempted assault charge for his involvement in an attack on Zeldin at the VFW in Perinton last week.
Jakubonis appeared before the judge in his hearing, where his attorney asked for his release into in-patient alcohol treatment — with the judge seeking a broader background of Jakubonis’s mental health history.
He first appeared before a state judge immediately after the attack, but during his hearing, Jakubonis was wiping tears from his eyes as his attorney recounted the traumas in his personal life.
His attorney also said that Jakubonis was an Army veteran and thought Zeldin was making fun of veterans. Prosecutors said Jakubonis could be heard repeatedly telling Zeldin “you’re done.”
The judge also questioned the device Jakubonis was holding while approaching Zeldin, which his attorney described as a keychain “for self-protection.”
The case was adjourned for 30 days for the judge to review more evidence and also requested the release of Jakubonis’s medical records for background on his mental health.
Jakubonis faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and is due back in federal court on August 24.
A big part of Zeldin’s campaign message has been a promise to get tougher on criminals. Almost immediately after the on-stage altercation with Jakubonis, he sought to link a New York bail reform law passed by Democrats to his own case.
The law requires judges to free most people accused of lesser crimes while they await trial. It limits the instances when judges can require a defendant to pay money to gain their freedom, a system that favored wealthier people.
When he was initially arrested, a Monroe County sheriff’s investigator charged Jakubonis with second-degree attempted assault, a crime not serious enough to warrant his jailing or the imposition of bail.
Afterward, Zeldin tweeted that his assailant’s release was “due to New York’s insane cashless bail law.”
Democrats pointed out that if prosecutors had wanted to give a judge discretion to jail Jakubonis, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley — a Republican who is listed as being a co-chair of Zeldin’s campaign — could have simply picked a more serious charge.
Even prior to the bail reform law, a charge of second-degree attempted assault might have been unlikely to lead to a judge setting a high bail that might have kept Jakubonis for more than a night.
Payson did not say when she would rule on the government’s request for detention. A status hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.