Investigation launched after man released from Erie County Holding Center in error

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A local man is back in custody to face charges after a reward was offered for information that led to his arrest — but his family says the story is not so simple.

John Drake Jr. was released from the Erie County Holding Center Saturday night when he should not have been let go. “After Drake was processed and released June 12, it was later determined that he was to be held further due to additional retainers,” the Erie County Sheriff’s Office said in a release Tuesday morning after Drake voluntarily appeared for court in Cheektowaga and was taken into custody to face a bench warrant in Supreme Court.

Drake was waiting in the parking lot of the Cheektowaga Courthouse Tuesday morning to meet his lawyer ahead of his scheduled court appearance on a drug charge. His sister, Mary, told News 4 Drake had been arrested on a warrant Wednesday and was supposed to be held in the Erie County Holding Center until his court appearance, but he was released accidentally.

“The police did come to our house,” Mary Drake said. “They told us that they released him by accident and they wanted to basically keep it on the hush.”

The Drakes say they only learned there was a reward being offered for his arrest when they saw the Crimestoppers story on the news Monday night.

“He’s been a great father, always been a hard worker, so it’s definitely surprising for us and for anybody who’s close to my brother to see him in this kind of situation and they know this is not the type of person he is,” Mary Drake said.

The situation has the family very upset. They say offering a reward paints the wrong picture of John Drake, Jr.

“I am thinking that people are trying to make this like his is some kind of hardcore criminal out there murdering people,” Mary Drake explained. “And that is not the case.”

Drake’s family did not want to discuss the details of the charges against him, but confirmed he was facing a drug charge in Cheektowaga court Tuesday morning and we know he was wanted on a criminal contempt warrant out of Supreme Court.

“He got arrested before for minor stuff, you know how it is when you’re exes. You get into fights,” his sister said.

Now, with Drake back in custody, his family is fighting to make sure his release from the holding center won’t be held against him in court.

“We’re doing everything we can to cooperate and he has, too,” Mary said. “I just don’t want the judge to put this on him when he did nothing wrong, and it was the sheriff’s (office) in Buffalo that admitted that they’re the ones that made the mistake.”

“The staff of the holding center clearly violated several established and strict policies and procedure for inmate releases,” Jail Management Division Superintendent Thomas Diina said in a written statement Tuesday.

“The sheriff’s office Professional Standard Division was contacted immediately following the incident and it initiated a full internal investigation. Both civilian and sworn staff members will be interviewed during PSD’s investigation and pending the conclusion of the investigation, any necessary disciplinary actions will be taken,” Diina went on to say in that statement.

John Drake Jr. has been taken back to the Erie County Holding Center to await his next court appearance.

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