'unbelievable' | 

Irishman whose drone ran out of batteries while capturing New York skyline to be deported from US

Dundalk man “Ricky” Pellecchia (38) says it is “unbelievable” what is happening to him

Riccardo “Ricky” Pellecchia

Sunday World

Friends of a popular Irishman who is facing deportation from the US after he got in trouble over a drone mishap in New York has said it is “unbelievable” what is happening to him.

Riccardo “Ricky” Pellecchia (38) a native of Dundalk, Co Louth, will be kicked out of the US and returned home by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week.

He has sent the last month at the ICE facility in Goshen, New York after they picked him up following an incident involving a drone he was flying.

Pellecchia who overstayed his 90-day visa waiver when he came to the US in 2010 became the subject of a New York Police Department and FBI investigating after the drone he uses to take photographs landed on property owned by electrical utility Con Edison in Manhattan.

The Irish Voice had reported last week that Pellecchia who enjoys taking photos of the Manhattan skyline and sunsets with the drone had been flying it one day in July when its battery went dead.

When he went to retrieve the drone he was greeted by members of the New York Police Department who had been contacted by Con Ed personnel about the sudden landing.

An NYPD detective questioned Pellecchia and was satisfied when the Irishman explained that he was using the drone solely to take photos and that the battery unexpectedly ran out.

A couple of weeks later the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force got involved although the agents who questioned him were also convinced the drone was recreational.

However, ICE then contacted Pellecchia to set up an interview. He agreed to mee them but on the morning of his appointment, there were four ICE cars waiting for him outside.

He was taken to the Manhattan field office at 26 Federal Plaza before being sent to Goshen.

Pellecchia who had no criminal record, worked at an Irish bar in Queens, and was involved in many local Irish organisations.

Pellecchia’s attorney Michael Nappo sought to have his client returned to Ireland via voluntary departure, a mechanism that would allow for an easier future trip to the US. Those with a deportation record are barred from traveling here for several years, but ICE officials would not budge.

“It’s very unfortunate. Ricky is a wonderful person but ICE didn’t want to hear it,” Nappo told the Irish Voice, sister publication to Irish Central.

His supporters here are furious at how he’s been treated, and cite the “unfairness” of what’s happening at the southern border with immigrants crossing into the U.S. and being bused to cities like New York where they can live and work while their cases are being adjudicated.

“What happened to Ricky is unbelievable. It is grossly unfair when looking at everything happening at the US-Mexico border. It seems there is no room for Irish people in America anymore,” one friend of Pellecchia’s told the Irish Voice.

“ICE could have given him voluntary departure. Ricky would have paid for his ticket. But they wouldn’t hear of it. He has been treated terribly, for no good reason.”

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