A Suffolk County judge accused of burglarizing a neighbor’s home was temporarily relieved of his judicial duties indefinitely on Friday, a state court official said.
The announcement came after District Court Judge Robert Cicale, 49, of East Islip, pleaded not guilty to second-degree burglary, a Class C felony, in the Central Islip courthouse where he presides.
He appeared before Judge David McAndrews, a Nassau County District Court judge who was brought in to preside at the arraignment.
Cicale looked down as he heard a prosecutor recount his admission that he had gone into the neighbor’s house because he had “urges to take panties.”
A 23-year-old neighbor on Donna Place was in her bedroom when Cicale opened the bedroom door about 9 a.m. Thursday, authorities said. The woman shouted “Hello,” closed and locked the door and called her mother, who kept her daughter on the line while the mother called 911, the prosecutor said.
Cicale left the house but was arrested nearby when he could not explain to a patrol officer why he was knocking on another neighbor’s door, the prosecutor said. He had female underwear taken from the first home when he was arrested, police said.
The prosecutor said the woman identified Cicale, who wrote out a confession and a letter of apology to the woman.
A court complaint said Cicale told authorities: “I went into the house to take the panties again but left when I heard someone home. The panties I had on me are from the other times I went into the house.”
The judge set bail at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash and ordered Cicale to wear a monitoring device. He was released on bail early Friday afternoon.
McAndrews also ordered Cicale to stay at least 100 feet from the neighbor’s house and to not have any contact with the 23-year-old woman or the home’s other two occupants.
A spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, Lucian Chalfen, said in an email Friday that effective immediately, the judge has been temporarily relieved of his duties by an order of the chief administrative judge. His cases will be reassigned.
“In addition, the matter has been referred to the Court of Appeals for a determination as to whether he will be suspended and if his suspension will be with or without pay,” Chalfen said.
Cicale’s attorney, William Wexler of North Babylon, said, “That must be standard administrative procedure by the courts.”
Earlier, Wexler said of his client, “I can tell by his face that he feels miserable.”
He said he has known Cicale for years and did not believe he had any mental health issues.
Wexler said the judge is married with three children, ages about 9 to 13.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini was in the courtroom for the arraignment.
“Obviously this is a highly disturbing case,” Sini told reporters outside. “This individual swore to uphold the law.”
Cicale was elected in 2015 on the Republican, Conservative, Green, Independence and Reform party lines. He also served as Islip Town attorney and worked for the Legal Aid Society, which represents indigent defendants.
Of Cicale, Christopher Brocato, president of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association, said: “He has a reputation not only as a good judge but as a good human being, too.”
With William Murphy