Judge releases Brentwood teen detained for MS-13 suspicion

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BRENTWOOD -

A federal judge ruled in favor of a Brentwood High School student who has been detained for months in California after being accused of being an MS-13 gang member.
  
The 17-year-old unaccompanied minor known by the initials "F.E." was being held by the Office of Refugee Resettlement since June, after he was arrested for disorderly conduct. He was labeled by Suffolk police as an MS-13 gang member. 

READ MORE: Officials: Suffolk police have not verified that detained teens are MS-13

The Office of Refugee Resettlement refused to release the teen, citing records from Brentwood High School. In February, school officials found the teen had written the numbers 503, which is the area code of El Salvador, in a notebook.

News 12 reported in August that the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the teen and two others. Early Tuesday morning, a federal judge in California ruled that the teens have to be given prompt hearings where the government has to provide evidence to justify their detention. Late Tuesday, F.E. had his hearing and was released after a Manhattan immigration judge ruled the evidence against the teen was "based on hearsay" and "insufficient." 

F.E. spoke exclusively with News 12 Long Island about his release. 

"I am so happy because I am with my family, everything is good," he told News 12. He also said that he cries every day and accused police and immigration agents of lying. 

F.E.'s lawyer called his client's release a "vindication" and a "big step to stop persecution of this child."

News 12 asked Suffolk Police Commissioner and District Attorney-elect Tim Sini about the decision.

"We stand by every single detention that we collaborated with   [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]   on," said Sini. "We targeted people based on factual allegations that they are active MS-13 members, and typically…it's not one indicator. It's a multitude of indicators."

As for the federal judge's decision requiring a hearing within seven days, Sini says it changes nothing. 

"We're going to continue the strategy that's been working for the last year and a half, and we're not going to make any apologies for that."

The ACLU says the other two teens are still awaiting their hearings, which the judge ordered has to happen by Nov. 29. 

A spokeswoman for ICE said they are "reviewing the decision."

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