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Allegheny County DA's office asks for review after magistrate lets man charged in police chase walk without posting any bail

Allegheny County DA's office asks for bail review in magistrate's recent ruling
Allegheny County DA's office asks for bail review in magistrate's recent ruling 02:25

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office is calling into question a recent ruling by a magistrate.

The DA's office asked for a bail review after Magistrate Xander Orenstein let a Sharpsburg man walk out without posting any bail. Some are now questioning if that decision was in the best interest of community safety. 

A high-speed chase down Route 28, driving the wrong way, running stop lights, nearly ramming two state troopers and tossing a weapon from his car -- the charges against Hermas Craddock of Sharpsburg fill two full pages. 

But the DA's office says what matters is this: Magistrate Xander Orenstein decided to set non-monetary bail at $0. The DA's office filed a bail review request since prosecutors believe Craddock poses a danger to the community.

"Judges in the magisterial level have to report to the judges of the Common Pleas Court," said Bruce Antkowiak, a law professor at St. Vincent College. "Their decisions will go to Common Pleas Court so a decision by a magistrate can readily be overruled by a judge at the next level up, which is Common Pleas." 

The DA's office said Craddock led officers on a high-speed chase while already out on bail for separate felony gun charges.

Antkowiak says magistrates can use their discretion to make their own decisions about bond but the only option moving forward now is for a judge to immediately overrule. 

"You hope for magistrates who will take all of this into account and who will be properly informed of the necessary background information. If, for some reason, a magistrate does not know that a defendant now before them is already out on bond on another case, that's a very bad problem with the system that needs to be corrected." 

Craddock's next court hearing for this most recent case is May 1. KDKA-TV reached out to his defense attorney for his previous case involving his felony gun charges to see if he wanted to comment but didn't hear back by airtime. 

Back in September, Magistrate Xander Orenstein's decision to release an alleged fentanyl trafficker with no ties to the area backfired. Police said he had $1.6 million of fentanyl on him. After getting released, he never showed again. Police said they haven't seen him since. 

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