A California bail reform organization backed by A-list celebrities has been sued for releasing a serial criminal who attempted to murder a waiter in Las Vegas less than a week later.
The Bail Project, whose supporters include Danny Glover, John Legend, and Richard Branson, announced its closure in early December due to restructuring, according to 8 NewsNow.
Its closure comes after it posted a $3,000 bond in December 2021 for burglary suspect Rashawn Gaston-Anderson.
Gaston-Anderson shot Chengyan Wang 11 times in Chinatown six days later, according to 8 NewsNow.
According to News 3 Las Vegas, the 24-year-old was convicted in a plea deal of attempted robbery and mayhem, both with deadly weapon enhancements.
Gaston-Anderson was sentenced to seven to 18 years in prison for the shooting in December.
The waiter, who was hit seven times during the attack at Shanghai Taste, is suing the nonprofit for its role in releasing Gaston-Anderson despite his criminal record.
Wang, who is also suing Gaston-Anderson and Shanghai Plaza owner US Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp., is requesting more than $15,000 in damages from each defendant, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“He’s covered in scars all over his body. He is unable to move his shoulder above a certain height. “I’m not sure how they missed a vital artery,” the victim’s lawyer, Kory Kaplan, told the newspaper.
The lawsuit accuses The Bail Project of failing to consider Gaston-potential Anderson’s danger to the community in light of his pending and previous cases.
In 2018, he pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny and was sentenced to 18 months probation in Las Vegas.
He was convicted of felony burglary in New York the following year, and auto theft in Illinois in 2021, according to Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.
He was also arrested in November 2021 for pandering and carrying a concealed weapon, according to 8 NewsNow.
He was allegedly released without bail and told to stay out of trouble.
He was arrested again the next day on burglary and theft charges. After the nonprofit posted his $3,000 bond, the repeat offender was released from jail.
“Normally, when cash bail is posted, it is a family member or friend who knows the accused,” Wolfson told the Review-Journal.
“In a sense, they are vouching for the individual. They are putting their own money at risk. “A family member, a brother, a friend comes forward, and if they put up $3,000 and this person doesn’t show up or re-offends, they lose their own money,” he explained.
“In this case, we have an out-of-state national organization with little or no ties to our community who posts cash bail,” the prosecutor continued.
According to Kaplan, the Bail Project, which advocates against cash bail and provides free bail funds for the poor across the country, never registered as a bail agent with Nevada’s Division of Insurance, as required by state law.
“They’re acting as a bailing agency, bailing people out with no or little due diligence,” he explained.
The Bail Project’s regional director, Cameron Pipe, called the shooting “an absolute tragedy.”
“The Bail Project, and I speak for The Bail Project, found it absolutely shocking,” Pipe said last year to 8 News Now.
“Every single decision that The Bail Project makes goes through the exact same thorough review,” he said when asked if the group noticed any red flags before posting Gaston-bond. Anderson’s
Katie Poor, the Bail Project’s deputy general counsel, told the outlet that the organization provides “free bail assistance and what we call community release.”
She emphasized that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that bail conditions are determined by a judge.
According to court records obtained by 8 News Now, Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Amy Chelini set Gaston-bail Anderson’s at $3,000 at the request of the Clark County DA’s Office.
He was reportedly one of 51 people bailed out by The Bail Project in the Las Vegas area since February 2021.
According to a spokesperson for the outlet, 91% of those contacted returned to their court dates.
Wang’s attorney, Kaplan, claims that US Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp. is liable for failing to provide adequate security at the time of the shooting, according to the Review-Journal.
The paper was unable to reach Eric Chen, its Las Vegas legal adviser, for comment. A representative for The Bail Project in Pasadena could not be reached either.
On its website, the group says it “combats mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system — one person at a time.
“We restore the presumption of innocence, reunite families, and challenge a system that criminalizes race and poverty,” the organization claims. “We’re on a mission to eliminate cash bail and create a pretrial system that is more just, equitable, and humane.”
Darin Imlay, the public defender for Clark County, acknowledged that his office helped bring The Bail Project to the Las Vegas Valley but has no formal relationship with the organization.
According to Imlay, the group accepts referrals from any attorney, including private attorneys, but it decides whether to bail someone out on its own.
Leave a Reply