On Sunday, April 7, 2024, Fox News reported that Bronx Criminal Court Judge Eugene Bowen had once again released criminal suspects without bail, drawing scrutiny for his soft-on-crime rulings.

Judge Bowen, a Democrat elected in 2022, had let go six migrant men arrested last week on drugs and weapons charges in Bronx, against the wishes of prosecutors. One of the men, Hector Desousa-Villalta from Venezuela, had a prior attempted murder charge from August 2023. Prosecutors asked to hold Desousa-Villalta on $150,000 cash bail but Judge Bowen released him and the other five men without bail.

This was not the first time Judge Bowen’s no-bail decisions had caused controversy. In November 2023, he released two men without bail who had been caught on video beating up a New York City police officer at a subway station. Kaream McClary and Izayiah Jessamy were arrested for assaulting Officer John Hernandez after he asked them to extinguish their cigarettes. Prosecutors requested $10,000 or $30,000 bond for the men but Judge Bowen set them free without bail requirements. The police union president Patrick Hendry criticized the ruling, stating that citizens need to demand consequences for assaulting police officers.

The eight migrants arrested last week and released by Judge Bowen were facing charges of criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance, and endangering the welfare of a child. Police had found four firearms, bags of cocaine and ketamine, and a 7-year-old child living in the apartment where the group was squatting. When officers first responded to reports of a person with a gun at the multi-dwelling house, they saw Hector Desousa-Villalta pointing a gun outside and tackling him as he fled. Another man, Javier Alborno, also tried escaping with a handgun but was apprehended.

Of the eight arrested migrants, only Alborno and Miquel Vaamondes-Barrios were being held in custody as of Sunday. Alborno’s bail was set at $100,000 cash while Vaamondes-Barrios, who had retail theft warrants in New York and Pennsylvania, was being held on $25,000 bail. It was unclear why only these two men were detained while the others, including the previously charged Desousa-Villalta, were released without bail. All eight migrants were accused of possessing drugs with intent to sell.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy called Judge Bowen’s lenient rulings unsurprising given how lower court judges are elected in New York City. He noted progressive Democrats dominate these low-turnout elections and also elected District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has been criticized for downgrading felony cases. McCarthy argued New York’s sanctuary city policies and criminal justice reforms mean serious criminals are instantly released without considering the danger to the community. This, combined with Judge Bowen’s soft-on-crime tendencies, is negatively impacting crime rates and quality of life in the city, according to McCarthy.

As a former public defender, Judge Bowen emphasized protecting clients’ rights in his campaign. However, his rulings in high-profile cases releasing repeat offenders have drawn stark criticism and questioning of whether they endanger public safety in the Bronx community he serves. Only time will tell if Judge Bowen shifts toward stricter bail standards that balance defendants’ presumption of innocence with risk levels prosecutors argue.



Source: Fox News