A Brooklyn flooring contractor and father of five, who was jailed in Bolivia for 18 months until the intervention of the actor Sean Penn lessened his punishment to confinement under house arrest, has been spirited out of the country and is in the New York area, according to Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn.
Mr. Hikind, who had been involved in efforts to free the man, Jacob Ostreicher, said on Monday night that he received the news from Mr. Ostreicher’s wife, Miriam. Mrs. Ostreicher did not respond to phone calls.
Mr. Hikind did not have any details, but a person familiar with some aspects of the escape who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the matter said, “There was an operation to get him out by professionals, people who know how to carry out these operations.” The person said Mr. Ostreicher was taken to a neighboring country, made his way to Los Angeles and then to the New York area.
Mr. Ostreicher, 55, went to Bolivia several years ago to seek his fortune in rice farming and ended up being accused by the Bolivian authorities of laundering drug money, a charge Mr. Ostreicher has always denied. He was never charged formally by prosecutors, but in June 2011, he became the only American in Palmasola prison, a notorious complex with 3,500 prisoners that is ruled internally by an inmates’ committee. He claimed that he was assaulted and humiliated until he paid money to committee functionaries.
Mr. Penn, who was contacted by an organization that aids Jewish prisoners, traveled to Bolivia last December to make a public appeal for Mr. Ostreicher’s release. Mr. Ostreicher was let out of prison on bail and confined to his home. But the authorities, who at the same time imprisoned more than a dozen officials on accusations of trying to extort Mr. Ostreicher’s assets, would not let him leave the country.