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The man who accosted Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin at a campaign event in western New York will be released from jail into an alcohol treatment program, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian Payson agreed Wednesday to allow David Jakubonis to enter a treatment program administered by the Veterans Administration. He will then be transferred to a halfway house operated by an organization that assists troubled veterans.
The attack on Zeldin, a Congress member from Long Island who is challenging Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, occurred July 21 at a campaign rally near Rochester.
ALLEGED LEE ZELDIN ATTEMPTED ATTACKER CHARGED WITH FELONY, IMMEDIATELY RELEASED JUST AS CONGRESSMAN PREDICTED
A video of the incident shows Jakubonis raised his arm toward Zeldin while holding a keychain with two sharp points. “You¡¯re done,” Jakubonis said four times as he approached Zeldin.
Attorneys for Jakubonis, an Army veteran, have said their client was drunk and was only reaching for Zeldin¡¯s microphone to stop him from talking.
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, pictured here in New York City, on Oct. 10, 2022, was assaulted by an intoxicated man in the crowd of a campaign event in Long Island, on July 21, 2022.
(Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
“Mr. Jakubonis, if he is drinking, does have a problem holding his liquor,” defense attorney Steven Slawinski said at a detention hearing, adding that Jakubonis has been prescribed psychiatric medication that can interact poorly with alcohol.
Jakubonis has been jailed since he was charged federally with assaulting a member of Congress with a dangerous weapon. He was initially arrested on a state charge of attempted assault and released.
John DeMarco, an attorney for Jakubonis, said he expects Jakubonis to be released on Monday.
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A request for comment on the decision to release Jakubonis to an alcohol treatment program was sent to a Zeldin campaign spokesperson.