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District Judge Xander Orenstein removed from hearing arraignments for "an indefinite amount of time"

District Judge Xander Orenstein sanctioned after complaints from law enforcement
District Judge Xander Orenstein sanctioned after complaints from law enforcement 02:57

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After hearing the complaints of law enforcement, the Allegheny County president judge has sanctioned District Judge Xander Orenstein.

After a second career criminal released on no cash bail failed to appear at his hearing, President Judge Susan Evashavik DiLucente had seen enough, issuing a tersely worded statement saying Orenstein will not be deciding bail for the foreseeable future, saying she has removed Orenstein "from hearing all arraignments for an indefinite period of time, effective immediately."

The judge's actions came after a fugitive warrant was issued for Hermas Craddock, who failed to appear at a bond modification hearing earlier this week. 

Despite a lengthy criminal record, Orenstein had released Craddock on a non-monetary bond after he was accused of leading state police on high speed chase down Route 28, nearly ramming two troopers and tossing a weapon from his car. 

Sheriff's deputies are now trying to locate and re-arrest him, but Sheriff Kevin Kraus said he shouldn't have been released in the first place.

"He clearly demonstrated was a threat to the public, to the people of Sharpsburg, and a flight risk, clearly demonstrated during that vehicle pursuit with the state police," Kraus said. 

Craddock was the second high-profile defendant who would be a no-show. Orenstein also released New York City native Yan Carlos Cepeda on no cash bail after his arrest for allegedly trafficking more than a kilogram of cocaine. The sheriff's office said they spent $30,000 sending detectives to New York three times to look for Cepeda after he failed to show at his preliminary hearing. 

Orenstein will not comment but is one of a number of new progressive district judges who believe cash bail unfairly penalizes defendants of meager means, but Kraus says bail is needed to ensure defendants show up for their hearings. 

"It's frustrating because there's a balance between considerations that go into bail. I get it. There's new philosophies in play, I get it. But, somebody's a threat to community, certainly we take that seriously," Kraus said. 

With this action, the president judge has put Orenstein on notice. The courts will not comment on whether she has referred her complaints to the Judicial Inquiry Review Board, which can impose harsher sanctions up to and including removal from the bench. 

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