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Businessman Bails Out Inmates Facing Christmas in Jail With AM-Christmas Rdp Bjt

December 24, 1985

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (AP) _ Nine inmates who faced Christmas in jail after being arrested on minor offenses got out Tuesday when a benefactor paid their $4,000 bail, continuing his 15-year-old tradition.

Businessman Sal Miglio said the pleasure the gesture brought him was ″a feeling you can’t buy in a department store.″

Some of the inmates who smiled and shouted ″Merry Christmas″ as they left the Nassau County jail shortly before noon were greeted by relatives, while others took a bus or caught a ride home with a jail official.

Miglio began the tradition in 1970 after he heard during a Christmas party that some inmates at the Nassau Correctional Center did not have the several hundred dollars it would take to be released on bail for the holidays.

″I was flabbergasted to learn they wouldn’t be home with their families because of a couple of hundred dollars,″ said Miglio, a real estate developer.

James DeSantis, 31, of New York City said he was ″shocked″ when he learned Miglio was going to pay to have him released.

″I thank the man a lot for giving me my freedom,″ he said. ″I’m going to try to do the right thing - stay out of trouble, out of jail.″

DeSantis, who was charged with stealing meat, has spent Christmas the last two years in jail. His gifts then were ″a pack of cigarettes and a bag of candy.″

″You have to experience being in jail to know what freedom means,″ he said.

Robert Payton, 26, of Hempstead said he didn’t expect to be home for Chistmas.

″It lets me know there is somebody out there who cares,″ said Payton, who faces a petty larceny charge.

Miglio said an inmate who did not return for trial last year was the only person who had ever jumped bail after being freed by him for Chistmas.

He said the possibility he might lose $750 if the defendant doesn’t turn himself in has not discouraged him from continuing to bail out inmates.

On Tuesday, he paid bails ranging from $200 to $750 to release the men, all of whom were arrested for minor offenses such as possession of stolen property, possession of narcotics instruments, and driving while intoxicated. All are awaiting trial.

″We try to let them know they do have dignity and honor. We try to build up their self esteem,″ said Miglio, adding that he and prison officials would try to find jobs for the inmates.

″All of these men can be rehabilitated and that’s the purpose.″ he said.

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