CLEVELAND (WJW) — A FOX 8 I-Team camera rolled Thursday night as a man finally walked out of jail, after being locked up for weeks when he didn’t fix up his property.
“I will be working on the house from now until it’s complete,” Jeffrey Ivey said. “And, really, for any inconvenience I may have caused anyone — I don’t know who it would have been — but if there was any inconvenience, I apologize for that.”
Ivey’s case sparked a firestorm when Cleveland Housing Court Judge Moná Scott sent him to jail, since some violent criminals don’t even get time behind bars.
The release from jail comes after Ivey served more than half of a 90-day sentence. The judge ruled he could go home now that he has a detailed plan for repairs.
However, the judge would not allow FOX 8 to record the online hearing Thursday morning.
Last month, protesters called out Judge Scott. They even followed her through city hall, jeering and making demands to release Ivey.
Since then, local businesses and strangers have stepped up to help with repairs. Ivey said he couldn’t do that work before, despite years of pressure from the court because of financial reasons.
He has worked a part-time job and as a freelance photographer, but he said he never had enough money for the repairs. He said he’s also been ripped off by contractors hired to do some of the work.
Attorneys Marcus Sidoti and Alex Ugolini heard about Ivey’s case from watching the FOX 8 I-Team story, and decided to represent him for free.
“He did not deserve to be in jail,” Ugolini said. “I think when Marcus and I heard about it, it was a no brainer. We wanted to offer whatever help we could.”
And, just after walking out of jail, Ivey said he is extremely grateful to the attorneys and so many people in the community that have offered to help him.
“I don’t know what public safety was served by me being incarcerated,” Ivey said. “I’m going to do what I need to do to restore my property.”
Ivey now leaves jail after promising the court he’ll follow a specific timetable to get things done, and he will work on a payment plan to pay $27,000 in back taxes.
In the meantime, we’ve shown you no slumlords or big landlords have been thrown in jail by the housing court. Last year, only three homeowners were locked up for 10 to 15 days. Yet, records show the City has 1,000 properties condemned.
Ivey posed for pictures with friends and loved ones after being released. Among the supporters was 94-year-old Reverend E.T. Caviness.
“Jeff is a good man and this should not have happened to him,” Caviness said. “I’m glad it’s over.”
Jeffrey Ivey headed home, saying, “I don’t think it’s something that anyone should go through.”