PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mik Pappas calls himself a progressive district justice, elected with the support of Democratic socialists, and he doesn’t believe in requiring defendants to post cash bail.
“It’s an undo burden on taxpayers who bare that burden of cost of incarceration, and it’s terribly offensive to civil liberties,” he said.
But two recent cases call that philosophy into question.
In July, a Chinese national named Yan Mo was arrested and accused of indecently assaulting a woman while giving her a massage at the Home Spa in South Hills Village. The complaint says instead of an over-clothes massage, Mo pulled down her pants and pulled up her shirt, unclasping her bra, and then rubbed his genitals against her.
But at his arraignment, Pappas released Mo with no cash bail and even paid for Mo’s Uber ride home. Mo failed to show up for his preliminary hearing and fled back to China.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “The purpose of a bond is to make sure they show up in court.”
Pappas: “And to make sure they don’t re-offend, to insure that the community is safe.”
Sheehan: “Well, this guy ends up in China.”
Pappas: “Like I said, I can’t speak to a specific case, but I can tell you that I certainly considered all available factors when making a bond decision.”
Sheriff William Mullen is speaking out for the first time about this and other Pappas bail decisions from the bench.
“It’s a sexual assault, which is certainly a very serious crime, not something that you pass by giving someone a nominal bond,” he said.
Earlier this month, he says the sheriff’s Fugitive Squad had to work overtime after they arrested Wayne McKenith, a fugitive on the run from fraud charges in Florida.
At his arraignment, Pappas promptly released McKenith on $1 bond. Sheriff Mullen says his deputies had to find and re-arrest McKenith and put him before another magistrate, who put the fugitive back in jail on $100,000 bond.
Sheriff Mullen: “It just sets us back. Now, we got to go out and look for people, now we have extra paperwork when we could go out after people who are wanted.”
Sheehan: Catch and release.
Sheriff Mullen: “Basically, yes.”