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DA to begin asking for pre-trial detentions

Date: 10/23/2014

SPRINGFIELD – The announcement that the Hampden County District Attorney’s office will be able to ask judges for a pre-trial detention involving gun crimes will give prosecutors in the county an additional tool to keep dangerous criminal off the streets.

Now, as explained by Mayor Domenic Sarno and Assistant District Attorney Jane Montori, a prosecutor can ask a judge to deny bail and instead send a defendant to the county jail for 90 days or until his or her trial.

Sarno cited the frustration he and others see when repeat offenders walk out of a courtroom under a low bail. The law governing pre-trial detentions now covers gun-related crimes.

Sarno also advocated for new legislation that would put the Commonwealth on equal footing with defendants in appealing bail.

The announcement made by Sarno dovetailed into statements made by Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse earlier on Oct. 15.

Morse referred to an incident involving Francis Bastardo-Reyes, 23, of 354 Hampden St., Holyoke.

According to the Holyoke Police Department, he is currently being held at the Hampden County House of Corrections in Ludlow on $500,000 bail for the incident in Holyoke on Oct. 11.

He was taken into custody on Oct. 20 in Holyoke after a Hampden County indictment and arrest warrant were issued.

Morse said, “I was shocked to learn that a man, who has a history of gun-related offenses, and who is now accused of firing into a home where children were watching television, was able to post bail for a mere $500. This decision is not only  indicative of a broken court system – it puts innocent lives at risk.

“The DA’s office had requested a $50k bond be set, but for some reason the Judge saw it fit to allow a figure 100 times less. How would that judge feel if it was their children being put at risk by these criminals? Enough is enough.

“Our police chief and my administration have made reducing gun violence a top priority. Setting bail at $500 for a man with such a history, accused of such violence, is a slap in the face to the men and women of the Holyoke.

“Police Department and the law-abiding residents of Holyoke. The chief has often said that we can’t arrest our way out of all of our public safety problems, and I agree. But when we do arrest somebody – especially someone who may have fired shots into someone’s home – that should mean something. The court should support the department by not allowing them right back on the streets.

“This situation is not unique to Holyoke and needs to be addressed regionally. I feel that with a new District Attorney being sworn in early next year, now is the time for local leaders to send a clear message to the state. I pledge to use every resource at my disposal to bring this issue to their attention and work to see the situation improved,” Morse concluded.

Speaking to Reminder Publications after the announcement, Morse said he was “very pleased to see the District Attorney’s office reacting this way.”

His remarks echoed those of former Holyoke Police Chief Anthony Scott who frequently criticized areas judges for how they allowed repeat offenders to walk out of a courtroom with low bails.