NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The attorney for the man arrested for allegedly ramming his truck into a crowd watching Endymion is launching a court fight to have him brought back to New Orleans.
The attorney just learned that two out of three Orleans inmates are being housed outside of Orleans Parish, while sheriff's deputies train.
Nanak Rai is the attorney for Neilson Rizzuto, the 25-year-old man arrested last month for running his truck into the Endymion crowd, and Rai left court this afternoon without his client, and somewhat surprised.
"For whatever reason, the sheriff tells me he's under a consent decree to house the prisoners somewhere else," said Rai.
That somewhere else is East Carroll parish some 400 miles away in the far northeastern corner of the state and Rizzuto wasn't brought back to court for this afternoon's status hearing.
"I understand it does make it difficult and challenging for everybody. We have two floors closed as part of operation rewind as we retrain deputies," said Blake Arcuri, the attorney for the sheriff's office.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office says nearly two-thirds of the inmates in their custody, more than 977 prisoners, are now being housed in three facilities outside of Orleans Parish. They are River Correctional in Ferriday, East Carroll Parish Prison and Hunt Correctional in St Gabriel.
"It's important that they are here so I can speak with him and I don't have to drive four hours there and four hours back," said Rai.
Currently, there are 566 inmates housed at the Orleans Justice Center.
Rai's client is being held on a $420,000 bond for an incident which happened on Endymion Saturday where police say he injured more than 30 people.
Rizzuto's attorney is now asking the court to bring him back.
"I filed a motion to remand him back here. There's no way I can properly defend him, or any defendant, if I don't have their presence," said Rai.
"As we have in the past, we will oppose this motion. It was well settled in this building," said Arcuri.
The sheriff's office has been operating under a federal consent decree for the last three years. They say under that decree, the courts have upheld the sheriff's right to house inmates in outside facilities. But he says if Rizzuto's attorney needs his client, they can make adjustments.
"If he wants to ask me to give three or four days for a visit, I will have him come here for a visit," said Arcuri.
But Arcuri says until Rizzuto bonds out, he will remain at the East Carrol jail, awaiting trial.
"We hope that people don't rush to judgment on my client. He's very remorseful for the people injured," said Rai.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office says entire floors of the Justice Center will remain closed until July as deputies retrain.
Rizzuto's attorney will head back to court Monday morning in his effort to have Rizzuto relocated to the partially open Orleans Justice Center while he awaits trial.