Life Behind Bars: Guldi

On August 31, George Guldi appeared before Judge James F.X. Doyle and was sentenced to one to three years after pleading guilty in July to 34 counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. He is currently serving a four-to-12-year sentence for an earlier conviction of insurance fraud and grand larceny.

Both convictions involve numerous real estate matters. But he will serve his one to three years concurrently with the four to 12 years.

According to attorney Chris Brocato, who has been assigned to assist him in his defense, Guldi could be transferred soon from Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead to a state prison.

Dan’s Papers received an exclusive essay written by Guldi from Suffolk County Jail describing his experience behind bars. [expand]

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GUEST OF THE GOVERNMENT GATED COMMUNITY IN THE HAMPTONS

——

I’ve Paid Money for Vacations that Were Worse than This

By George Guldi

Room service brings me three meals a day, and comes for the dishes, but leaves me with a spoon of my very own to keep. The food is not as over-salted as it was at the all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic, and it does not give you food poisoning the way it did in Mexico. Also you don’t ever have to trouble yourself over menu selections because the dieticians here take care of that for you, and you can always tell what day of the week it is by what you are eating in case you forget, which is a great convenience. I have paid good money for food that was far worse than this on many occasions, and here it’s all included as part of the service.

Room service comes twice a week to pick up, and then redelivers my laundry the same day.

Mail service is special too. They pick up your mail and deliver it right to my room. Not only that, but they save me the trouble of opening my mail and open it all for me so I never risk a paper cut.

Phone service is special too; at random times I get the chance to make collect calls at $10 for 15 minutes to anyone who will accept the charges. It’s remarkable how few people will pay good money to talk to me.

I get an hour of outdoor exercise each day, which is more than I ever allowed myself before. I used to send my money to the gym every month, but never seemed to get there myself. Here I get the opportunity every day, weather permitting, and since it is the only time out of my room, I am getting more exercise than ever.

The medical care is actually extraordinary. The medical staff is taking better care of me than I ever took care of myself. At home I have not seen my blood sugar tester since August. Here they test my blood sugar three times a day and have, with medication, brought my blood sugar to half of what my all-time low was. Also they have started me on insulin and were not at all sympathetic to my needle phobia. Between this and exercise I am losing weight. They are giving me all my medications and watching me to make sure I take them so I don’t ever forget as I used to from time to time. In short, it is the best medical attention I have ever had, and better than I used to give myself. I am, however, still waiting to see the dentist; maybe he is not up to the challenge.

The single biggest benefit to me of my visit here is clearly the bars on the door to my room, separating me from the Ben & Jerry’s at night.

As gated communities go this is the best I have ever seen. Instead of a bad fence and some pensioner guard with a drinking problem in a booth in the driveway like most of them, the staff here is a highly-trained, quasi-military professional organization with a staff of real trained security officers (hereinafter “Correction Officers”). They patrol not only all entrances but the entire property perimeter, building perimeter, all interior corridors and all sleeping areas for all the residents and guests. No one can enter or leave the facility without going through multiple checkpoints. All the Correction Officers, in addition to being highly trained, have clearly gone through rigorous background checks and psychological testing.

I am residing in a special security section, housed alone in a 6-foot-by-10-foot efficient room on a wing with three scared kids in quilted dresses so they can’t tie their clothes to the bars and hang themselves. It’s called the observation bay, and I think it’s for suicide watch. These scared kids are there for DWIs and Violations of Probation, and general stupidity. I have become the den mother. In part because I face 91 additional phony felonies, in part because most are younger than my kids and in part because I get more medications than all of them put together. So here I am, with them all coming to me for advice about everything from their medication to their love letters. Now, there is a true irony, me giving advice about love letters.

The longer-term residents are offered the opportunity to perform work assignments and obtain job skills and they provide much of the room service functions in the facility. In addition there are a vast number of self-improvement programs offered to the residents including many different 12-step programs, GED programs, job training programs and many religious programs.

I have had the opportunity to meet a number of characters while I’ve been here, each of which comes with their own unique story of how they personally have been wronged, but I suspect that at least some of them are suffering from challenged veracity. I have concluded that they are not all actually innocent. However, it is clear to me that as a group, they certainly have a higher ethical, moral and compassion standard, as well as a higher sense of integrity and a more developed belief and value system, than most of the elected officials and their staffs and handlers that I associated with for the 10 years I spent in the Suffolk County Legislature.

Special Room Searches

In order to protect us from injury, they make sure we have no sharp objects, and will only let us have razors for a few minutes to shave with. To check, from time to time, they come by our rooms and go through all of our things to make sure we have not accidently acquired any. I am touched by the level of caring. It’s a great convenience, because it gives a great head start on spring-cleaning

The Dark Side

Some of the residents here seem to have a great deal of trouble accepting and appreciating the accommodations. And the fact is that they have earned the right to be here, or have to wait here until the Appellate Courts, or trial Courts determine otherwise. They cannot accept that the officers here have nothing to do with the resident and guest selection process, and vent their frustrations upon the officers or other residents in antisocial ways. On my wing there is one gentleman who has been sent here from one of the other housing units, where the sleeping accommodations are in a different style. He is in my wing to recover from injuries he received from a beating.

It seems that one day he objected to a bully taking the bread ration from a young resident, and urged him to relent. He is a large and persuasive individual and they relented. At approximately 2 a.m., he was attacked in his sleep by three individuals using part of a bunk bed that they had loosened as a weapon. He was beaten into unconsciousness and beyond. The officers, probably by design of the attackers, had been drawn away to the far end of the facility while the beating continued. He was partially blinded in his left eye, suffered brain and nerve damage, partial paralysis of one leg and wakes most nights with nightmares, re-living the attack.

It Is Clear That Life for the Correction Officers is Worse Than for the Residents

I have been told that the Officers in the tiers (bunk housing) and pods (individual cells) cannot show any compassion or kindness without becoming targets for attack by the residents. They must always be on their guard against attack upon themselves but also for attack of resident upon resident. At the same time, they are conducting the constant search for contraband of every order. They must fight the boredom of the repetition of [head] counts and repeated routine punctuated by the occasional moments of horror, terror, or utterly inhuman behavior. [They must] act robotic in self-defense, but still gain intelligence so that they can protect the compliant [inmates] from attack by the predatory [inmates]. Not to mention the threat of [contracting] communicable diseases (from tuberculosis, hepatitis C and HIV) and injury.

All of this with more rules than resources or support. But whenever anything goes wrong, or anyone gets injured, they are always the ones who take the blame all the way up and down the chain of command. For this they are underpaid, work nights, weekends, holidays and rotating shifts. This means you can look forward to having Christmas and the Fourth of July off four times in 20 years, six weekends a year that occur on Saturday and Sunday (which is 20 fewer than a non-Correction Officer), and they all have to commute [to get here], which none of the residents or guests ever have to do. In fact, whenever the guests and residents have an outside appointment, the Officers work as chauffeurs or tour bus operators.

Guests and Residents

Guests are those here because they didn’t make bail. Residents are here because they’ve been convicted or have pled. My bail has been set to make me capitulate to confess to things I did not do in order to avoid work by the District Attorney and Judge. If I plead guilty they need not prove anything. If I go to trial they must try, through demonizing words, fake evidence, lying rats and finger pointing that things were crimes. All about transactions that they don’t understand but they want to call fraud. Why would I want to go back to a constantly ringing cellphone, the constant demands of clients who want everything except to pay bills—and not taking care of my health and getting no exercise? Capitulation to crimes that do not exist, I don’t think so.

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