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Judge Releases Migrant Squatters From New York Jail

1 week ago 24

Six of eight migrant squatters arrested last week in New York City on drug and gun charges have been released by two judges without posting bail, against the discretion of local district attorneys.

Squatters' rights have been analyzed and debated recently following a slew of cases across the country, in which individuals essentially occupy properties that are not legally theirs but stay in them for various reasons, all while not paying rent or being obligated to provide any lawful documentation.

"The squatting problem is becoming an epidemic, and soon we will be immune to this as we've gotten immune to bail reform," Jay Oliver, LI News Radio host and political commentator, told Newsweek via email.

"It used to mean something when you could claim ownership to the place you worked hard for, to give your family a better life. Heaven forbid if you go away for a weekend and somebody else is living there, and just like that, your American dream is gone. If our justice system doesn't improve as far as keeping bad people off the streets, we as a society will be gone as well."

The issue has drawn the attention of the Biden administration, which on Monday said that it's "critical that local governments take action" to address the ongoing issue of squatters taking up residence in homes they don't own in different parts of the country.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed new legislation, increasing penalties against squatters, making it a "second-degree felony for any person who unlawfully occupies or trespasses in a residential dwelling and who intentionally causes $1,000 or more in damage."

A person waits for the bus on May 22, 2022, in the Bronx borough of New York City. Of eight squatters recently arrested in the Bronx on drug and gun charges, six were released without... David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The latest incident in New York City is drawing even more attention and criticism because the squatters were arrested on serious charges and most were let go by a local judge.

The charges stemmed from an NYPD response to a 911 call at approximately 10:04 p.m. March 27, with the caller saying an individual had a firearm in the 3000 block of Hull Avenue in the Bronx. Police said a 24-year-old male was found with a firearm and immediately apprehended in a basement apartment. A 22-year-old male was also taken into custody, accused of attempting to leave the location with a firearm.

A search warrant of the basement apartment revealed two additional firearms and a "large quantity of a controlled substance," an NYPD spokesperson told Newsweek.

The following individuals were arrested, each charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance and acting in a manner injurious to a child:

  • Hector Desousa-Villalta, 24.
  • Jaiver Alborno, 22.
  • Yoessy Pino Castillo, 20.
  • Yerbin Lozado-Munoz, 25.
  • Yojairo Martinez, 42.
  • Miquel Vaamondes-Barrios, 31.
  • Jefferson Orlando Abreau, 39.
  • Johan Cardenas Silva, 35.

Six of the suspects were released by two different judges, according to court records.

Bronx Judge Eugene Bowen let Villalta, Castillo and Abreau walk despite the Bronx District Attorney's Office requesting Bowen to set bail at $150,000 cash or $450,000 bond for Villalta, a D.A. spokesperson told Newsweek via email on Wednesday.

Bowen was requested to set bail at $15,000 cash or $45,000 bond for Castillo and Abreau.

Bronx Judge Laurence Busching allowed three others to walk—Martinez, Lozado-Munoz and Silva. The judge was requested to set bail at $15,000 cash or $45,000 bond for all three defendants.

Each judge arraigned four defendants, according to the D.A. spokesperson, who said the office does not comment on bail decisions.

In 2019, the New York Legislature passed bail reform that went into effect on January 1, 2020, and in most instances ended money bail for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies.

Lawmakers have revisited the issue several times during session since its passing, even bolstering the definition of "harm" committed or posed by a suspect and how a judge should rule in such cases.

Jake Blumencranz, a Republican and New York state assemblyman, has proposed a change in state laws that will look to revise property rights that aim to change the definition of what it means to be a tenant, excluding the term "squatters."

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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