New bill could change bond laws following release of fentanyl drug dealer

A bill making its way through the Pennsylvania Senate could change bond laws for people who pose threats to public safety.

“There was a case where someone was arrested and they were on the terrorism watch and they were released on their own recognizance and they fled the country,” said Allegheny County Senator Devlin Robinson.

>> Man charged with transporting more than $1.5M in fentanyl fails to appear in court for 2nd time

That’s just one of the examples that led to Robinson introducing this legislation. He said if it passes it will amend the law to set a monetary bail for someone posing a threat to the public’s safety.

“A person with a history of violence in the past five years cannot be issued a release on their own recognizance, there has to be a monetary bail set,” Robinson said.

>> Man allegedly caught with enough fentanyl to kill 35% of Pennsylvanians released from jail

But deeper in that legislation, it also includes those same parameters for anyone found with 10 grams or more of fentanyl. The senator said it stems from the release of Yan Carlos Pichardo Cepeda, the man arrested after he was allegedly found with $1.5 million worth of the drug, enough to kill 35% of Pennsylvanians.

To this day he’s yet to be found after a judge did not set a monetary bond.

>> ‘Very dangerous decision’: DA was not notified of accused drug trafficker’s release from jail

“I think this is one of those laws I’m surprised we have to go out and legislate this issue. If you want to be in the judicial system you should take the oath that you are there to protect the population at large,” Robinson said.

Defense Attorney Blaine Jones has a different opinion. He told Channel 11 that judges already have a system for violent offenders, the only thing new to the bill is the drug language.

“We all know someone touched by the opioid crisis and we know how deadly fentanyl can be. I do think we need to allow judges and magistrates to use their experience to make decisions on a case-by-case basis,” Jones said.

The bill is already out of the Judiciary Committee and could be voted on by the full Senate as early as this week.

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