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The Ecuadorean man detained by immigration officials while delivering a pizza to military base in New York City earlier this year was arrested for alleged criminal mischief as his immigration case continues to plays out, authorities said Monday.
Pablo Villavicencio was taken into custody at a Nassau County detention center in New York Saturday on a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief, according to the Nassau County Sheriff's Department. He is due back in court on Tuesday.
Villavicencio, 35, was accused of pushing his wife against a wall, slapping her body and grabbing her phone after she said she going to call police during an argument last week, according to court documents.
The criminal mischief charge stems from the allegation that Villavicencio tried to prevent his wife from calling police on Thursday. Villavicencio allegedly removed his wife's cell phone from a kitchen counter and put it in his pocket to prevent her from calling police.
The Legal Aid Society, which has been representing Villavicencio, said in a statement that recent events have been harrowing for the family.
“The past several months, including Pablo’s detention and threats of imminent deportation, have been traumatic for the Villavicencio family,” the organization said. “We are hopeful that this matter will be resolved and that Pablo will secure valid status with the continued assistance of our counsel.”
Villavicencio entered the country illegally in 2008 and had not left despite a 2010 order of deportation. In 2013, he married Sandra Chica, a U.S. citizen, and has two young daughters.
His detention in June sparked outrage from local officials and activists after he was taken into custody while delivering a pizza to the Fort Hamilton Army base.
Villavicencio used a municipal identification card that is free for New York City residents and does not require a person to be authorized to live in the U.S. His family and advocates helping his case had said that while that identification worked during previous deliveries, on June 1 it did not and when officials ran a background check, they discovered the order of deportation and arrested him.
Villavicencio had applied to change his immigration status and obtain permanent legal residency through his wife’s citizenship and in July a judge ordered him immediately released from detention while that case is decided.
The judge also ordered a stay of deportation for Villavicencio as he fights to gain legal status.
In his order, the judge said that aside from his immigration status, Villavicencio has “otherwise been a model citizen” and has no criminal history and has paid taxes, and has a wife and two young daughters who are all U.S. citizens.
Villavicencio had been held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in New Jersey for more than 50 days prior to his release.