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Ann Marie Drago out of jail on bail pending conviction appeal, records show

Ann Marie Drago at First District Court in

Ann Marie Drago at First District Court in Central Islip in February 2020. Credit: James Carbone

The nurse convicted in anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez’s death got out of jail Thursday after a judge granted her release on bail during her appeal — a decision that angered the victim's family.

Records show Ann Marie Drago, 60, of Patchogue, left a Suffolk jail a week after she started a 9-month sentence for criminally negligent homicide, criminal mischief and petit larceny.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho said in an order Wednesday granting Drago a stay of sentence, pending appeal, that she otherwise would "certainly" serve her entire sentence before her appeal could be resolved.

Camacho added that claims Drago's appellate lawyer could raise related to her criminally negligent homicide conviction "are not frivolous." But Rodriguez's daughter, Kelsey Cuevas, 23, called Drago's jail release "ridiculous" and "disgusting" on Thursday.

"I can feel my mother turning in her grave right now," she added.

Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said that while his office opposed a stay of sentence, prosecutors "are confident that the defendant's conviction will ultimately be upheld and justice will be served."

Camacho described Drago in his order as a lifelong Suffolk resident who has no prior criminal record and works as a home health aide. He also wrote that she underwent years of therapy after a PTSD diagnosis following a patient attack. The judge set bail options that included $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond.

Drago's attorney, Stephen Kunken, said he was pleased with the judge's ruling and that Drago will go back to her job caring for an elderly patient while awaiting a higher court's decision in her case.

Drago said at her sentencing that she was sorry for what she called "an instinctive decision" that caused the victim’s "very tragic and unnecessary death."

She added: "I will take my punishment, whatever the court decides."

Drago ran over Rodriguez, 50, of Brentwood, with her Nissan Rogue during a September 2018 confrontation over a Brentwood memorial for the victim’s slain 16-year-old daughter, Kayla Cuevas. Federal prosecutors say Kayla and her 15-year-old friend, Nisa Mickens, fell victim to deadly violence from MS-13 gang members who still await trial.

Rodriguez had set up the memorial in front of the home of Drago’s mother before a vigil planned to mark the two-year anniversary of the discovery of Kayla’s remains on the property. But then Rodriguez suffered a fractured skull and brain injury less than 300 feet from that location in an encounter News 12 Long Island recorded on video.

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