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Men tried to rip off mom of Rikers inmate: DA

Two Brooklyn men have been accused of attempting to shake down the mother of a Rikers Island inmate for $20,000 by making her believe they could have her son released from jail by getting his criminal case dismissed, the Queens district attorney said.

Brooklyn’s Michael Mendez, 19, and Ramon Pabon, 41, were arraigned Aug. 5 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Stephanie Zaro on grand larceny and criminal impersonation charges and ordered to return to court Aug. 19, Queens DA Richard Brown said.

Mendez was held on $75,000 bail, while Pabon’s bail was set at $10,000, the DA said. If convicted, they each face up to seven years in prison.

The inmate’s mother had treated one defendant “like her own son,” the DA said.

“In turn, the defendant and an accomplice are now accused of repaying her kindness by playing on the emotional bonds between a mother and her son to rip her off,” he said.

Mendez had previously been incarcerated at Rikers Island, where he befriended the victim’s son, who was in jail on a Queens robbery case, the DA said. During his time at the jail, the victim sent Mendez money because he had no other family. The defendant was released July 29 and, on the following day, he visited her at her place of business.

The victim gave Mendez $200 in cash for a room, $100 for food and told him to come back the following day to pick up some of her son’s clothes that would fit him, the DA said. On July 31, she gave him the clothes, as well as promised to give him $300 in cash, Brown said.

Mendez allegedly told the woman he could get her son out of jail because he had a friend in the court system, Brown said.

On Aug. 1, the victim received a call from Pabon, who posed as a court employee and told her he was a friend of Mendez, the DA said. During the course of that day, the woman had several conversations with the two defendants, during which they allegedly discussed arrangements for her son’s release, he said.

During one conversation, Mendez is alleged to have told the victim that she would have to pay a $12,000 fee and that her son would be released during his next court appearance Aug. 12, the DA said. Pabon allegedly told her he sat next to the judge and the DA in the Queens Courthouse, he said.

On Aug. 2, Mendez met with the victim at her place of work and allegedly told her the fee had been changed to $20,000 because her son’s release had been pushed up to last week, Brown said. He is alleged to have met her in front of the Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens the following day, handed her a printout of what appeared to be court information and told her to come back to the courthouse the next day with $10,000 in cash, the DA said.

Both defendants allegedly met the victim Aug. 4 and 5 at the courthouse to work out details for her son to be released, Brown said. During the second meeting, the woman allegedly gave Pabon $5,000 in cash and the two men were arrested shortly afterward, the DA said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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