New York’s worst cases in 2021 stem from precarious bail reform law

The year 2021 has brought a heavy chunk of unwanted justice to the Big Apple.

Between lenient judges and liberal state bail reform laws, scores of violent criminals have returned to the streets – to do it again.

The soft-on-crime law, passed by state lawmakers in 2019 and amended in 2020, stripped judges of their discretion by prohibiting them from posting bail for almost all misdemeanors and non-violent crimes.

Haja Kaira spoke about the murder of her son, Saiko Koma. The murder stems from lax bail reform laws allowing criminals to return to the streets.
GNMiller / NYPost

Other lawyers have simply gone rogue by throwing defendants into serious cases.

Here is a look back at some of the more amazing cases:

Free to “kill”

Steven Mendez, 18, already had at least three busts to his name and was on probation when he allegedly shot dead 21-year-old student Saiko Koma in October.

Bronx judge Denis Boyle freed Mendez on five-year probation in May after pleading guilty to violent armed robbery in 2020, The Post previously reported. The troubled teenager, whose rap sheet includes a bust for allegedly shooting his own mother, could have been kept behind bars for up to four years in the theft case.

Steven mendez
Steven Mendez has been accused of shooting Saikou Koma.

Instead, the notorious gang member, then 17, was free to allegedly shoot Koma fatally in Fordham Heights – after police say he mistook the victim for a rival gang member .

Mendez was arraigned for murder in the case last week and ordered his detention without bail, court records show.

“What’s wrong with this judge?” Koma’s father denounced the Post last month.

‘Teflon’ burglar

Accused serial burglar Juan DelValle was so adept at dodging prison that cops came to call the 32-year-old career criminal “Teflon.”

Juan del valle
Accused of serial theft, Juan DelValle continues to be released by the courts.

DelValle already had more than 30 busts on his rap sheet – and five open cases in Manhattan and Brooklyn – when a Manhattan judge ordered his release without bail on Aug. 15 for the latest burglary case.

Prosecutors wanted DelValle to be held on $ 10,000 bail.

Within 10 days, cops said, DelValle was wanted for more than a dozen more burglaries after investigators found 20 laptops, a stolen 9mm handgun, and drugs in his apartment. a Brooklyn public housing complex.

Juan del valle
DelValle has stolen handguns, medical IDs and more.

Police caught up with DelValle in late August and hit him with burglary charges – and he’s ultimately behind bars on $ 10,000 bail, records show.

Freed crawling molest girl

A 31-year-old homeless man was at large in an ongoing burglary case when police said he broke into a 10-year-old girl’s bedroom on June 12 and rubbed her genitals.

Raymond Wilson during his appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Raymond Wilson during his appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Raymond Wilson had been arrested for burglary at least a dozen times.

“The victim felt something gooey on his feet and noticed the accused rubbing his penis on his toes,” Manhattan prosecutor Meghan McNulty said in court.

“The victim cried out for her parents, but no one was home except for her younger sister, who was sleeping in another room,” McNulty said.

Surveillance footage of Raymond Wilson in Manhattan.
Surveillance footage of Raymond Wilson in Manhattan.

Just a month before the girl’s alleged assault, Wilson was charged with third-degree burglary in a separate case – but had to be released because state bail reform measures do not allow for the judges to set a bond for the prosecution.

Detectives then located Wilson using DNA from a water bottle he left behind, and he is being held on $ 500,000 bond at Rikers Island for sexual abuse.

Released on reduced bail

Notorious teenage gangbanger Alberto Ramirez took a break when Bronx judge Denis Boyle lowered his bail on a gun case – then used it to allegedly kill a father of two.

Alberto ramirez
Alberto Ramirez was arrested in the murder of Eric Velasquez.

Ramirez, 17, was released on March 2 after Boyle – the same lawyer in the Mendez case – reduced his bail from $ 75,000 to $ 10,000 over objections from prosecutors in the Bronx.

Police said on May 16, Ramirez fired randomly at a crowd in the territory of a rival gang, when a bullet hit and killed Eric Velasquez, 34, a passerby.

“How many bites of apple does someone get before someone is killed?” A law enforcement source told The Post at the time.

The teenager was arrested on June 7 and is being held without bail for murder, manslaughter and weapons in the case.

‘My hands are tied’

Ricardo Hernandez was released after being charged with three hate crimes for allegedly pushing an Asian NYPD officer on the tracks of the Queens subway on April 17.

Ricardo hernandez
Ricardo Hernandez had at least a dozen prior arrests on his record.
Ellis Kaplan

And there was nothing the prosecutors – or the judge – could do about it.

“My hands are tied because under the new bail rules I have absolutely no authority or power to bail this defendant on bail for this alleged offense,” the court judge said. Queens Supreme Louis Nock at the arraignment of Hernandez.

The 32-year-old suspect had at least a dozen previous arrests to his credit, but the stampede charges were nonetheless not eligible for bail under the state’s new laws.

Ricardo hernandez
Ricardo Hernandez at Queens Court Sunday.
Ellis Kaplan

Police said Hernandez approached the undercover cop on the platform of the N train at Dutch Kills, telling the officer, “I’ll fk you. It’s my house.”

The cop was not seriously injured and Hernandez walked out of court telling the Post he didn’t want to talk about the charges.

Hernandez then pleaded guilty to a violation in the case, with the case then sealed, a spokeswoman for the Queens District Attorney’s Office said on Monday.

What happens next?

Incoming mayor Eric Adams has expressed concern about the impact of the state’s bail reform measures, but as a local official there is likely little he can do about it.

State lawmakers have not responded to the Post’s inquiries on the matter over the past week, and Gov. Kathy Hochul has largely declined to discuss the matter in detail.

Meanwhile, state court officials have repeatedly defended the discretion of judges when making bail decisions – when the law allows them to do so.

“Judges are unique in the criminal justice system, especially during arraignments, in that with limited information they exercise their discretion on a case-by-case basis while having to decide what is fair and equitable at the same time. for the accused and for society, which can at times seem to go against the grain, ”court spokesman Lucian Chalfen said in an email.

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan


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