NEW YORK - A New York City man who’s now been arrested 139 times thanked Democrats for guaranteeing his immediate release despite repeatedly swiping hundreds of dollars from unsuspecting subway commuters since the state’s new bail reform law went into effect Jan. 1.
Charles Barry, 56, has been arrested six times since the start of this year. He’s been released each time without having to post bail under New York’s new bail reform law since his alleged offenses were nonviolent, the New York Daily News reported. In the past, Barry’s served several stints in state prison and has a lengthy record, including six felonies, 87 misdemeanors and 21 missed court hearings, the newspaper reported, citing court records.
“Bail reform, it’s lit!” Barry yelled to reporters Thursday outside the NYPD Transit District 1 headquarters in the Columbus Circle station before officers transported him to Manhattan Central Booking. “It’s the Democrats! The Democrats know me and the Republicans fear me. You can’t touch me! I can’t be stopped!”
After his most recent arrest Thursday, Barry was held in custody for about 36 hours until his Saturday morning arraignment hearing in his Manhattan Criminal Court. He was then released before trial without paying bail. He had two warrants out for his arrest for missing court dates related to past alleged subway theft, including one instance in January when he allegedly snatched a $50 bill out of a woman’s hand while she was trying to buy a Metro card at a Bryant Park station machine.
Officers arrested him Thursday after he was spotted jumping a subway turnstile in Penn Station. Barry, a career criminal, has repeatedly duped subway-goers by dressing as MTA officials and robbing people after offering to help them buy their tickets, police said.
“I’m famous! I take $200, $300 a day of your money, cr----r! You can’t stop me!” Barry shouted to reporters. “It’s a great thing. It’s a beautiful thing. They punk’ed people out for bullsh-- crimes.”
A high-ranking official in the New York City Police Department said because of the new bail reform law, offenders like Barry are released and then repeat the same crimes because judges cannot order them to be held in jail before trial. Sometimes, what begins as a nonviolent crime often turns violent if a robbery goes awry, he added.
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“At least before, he’d be remanded and be behind bars for a couple of days. He wouldn’t be able to victimize people,” Assistant Chief Gerald Dieckmann, the No. 2 officer in the NYPD’s Transit Bureau, told the New York Daily News. “When someone doesn’t pay them or give them the money, it’ll turn into a robbery, a slashing an assault.”
But Legal Aid Society, which represents Barry, argued the NYPD is using a few cases to spread fear over the new bail reform law.
“Mr. Barry’s case underscores the need for economic stability and meaningful social services, not a need to roll back bail reform,” the society said in a statement. “Locking up Mr. Barry on unaffordable bail or worse, remanding without bail, ultimately does nothing to protect the public and fails entirely to address his actual needs.”