65-year-old who died at Rikers never thought he’d end up behind bars: ‘Nice try, counselor’

A senior citizen drug suspect who died at Rikers Island apparently thought the reform laws were on his side, teasing a prosecutor who previously tried in vain to have him held on bail, a top drug official said Monday.

“Nice try, counselor,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan quoted Marvin Pines as telling a Manhattan assistant district attorney last June.

Pines, 65, died the morning of Feb. 4 in the shower area of Rikers Island’s North Infirmary command, apparently after suffering a seizure, according to sources and his lawyer. He was housed at the unit, where the sickliest detainees are held, since his arrival at the jail last summer.

Two assistant deputy wardens, the captain and two officers were later suspended by the Correction Department after it learned that for three hours before Pines’ death, no officer toured his floor, as required.

Two nursing attendants with Correctional Health Services were also suspended pending a review of the emergency medical response.

“It’s alarming. I don’t have any words to add,” Pines’ daughter LaToya Ortega told the Daily News. “I can’t believe that they are saying there was no staff, and it seemed like it was going on for such a long time.”

For a while, Pines appeared confident the last place he’d wind up was Rikers Island.

He had mental health issues, as well as problems with headaches and his blood pressure. Had he lived, he would have been sentenced on Feb. 21 to a year in state prison after pleading guilty, and he may have received treatment for his drug issues that he wasn’t getting at Rikers, Brennan said.

Brennan, speaking Monday at a breakfast hosted by the Citizens Crime Commission, a nonprofit focused on criminal justice issues, noted that Pines’ case makes clear there are no easy answers when dealing with drug users.

She noted that Pines was let go under terms of supervised release after his March 16, 2022, arrest for selling heroin and fentanyl seven times to an undercover officer outside an Eighth Ave. McDonald’s near W. 35th St.

The next day, while in a holding cell, Hines allegedly pulled 17 glassines of the same drugs from his buttocks and gave them to three other prisoners, one of whom overdosed but survived thanks to a Narcan dose from an officer.

Pines was released without bail for the first incident, then rearrested for the holding cell incident. He was again let go, this time under terms of supervised release.

Two months later, Pines was busted outside the same McDonald’s, where police saw him dealing, with 58 glassines recovered. Some were stamped with “I’m Lovin’ It” and McDonald’s arches, Brennan said.

When Pines appeared in court a month later, Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Doyle argued that the arrest violated the terms of Pines’ supervised released from the prior arrest, Brennan said.

“She makes her impassioned plea,” Brennan said, but the judge opted for supervised release for Pines.

“And as he’s walking out, Marvin Pines said to the assistant, ‘Nice try, counselor.’”

Bail was eventually set when Pines was busted at the same spot last July, on a day when there were four overdoses nearby.

They couldn’t be pinned on Pines, Brennan said, but he was held on bail, setting in motion the circumstances ending in his death.