Nassau County, NY – A Long Island judge refused to grant release to a two-time bank robber in intentional defiance of New York’s new bail reform laws that allow all but the most violent criminals to be released without bail.
Nassau County District Judge David McAndrews ordered Romell Nellis held on $10,000 cash bail or a $20,000 bond during a hearing on Jan. 9 in Hempstead, the New York Post reported.
“I don’t want you walking around my neighborhood,” McAndrews told Nellis during the hearing.
Nellis was arrested on Jan. 8 for two bank robberies that he committed a month earlier, the New York Post reported.
He allegedly gave the bank tellers a note that said “I have a gun!” before demanding “$100s, 50s & 20s.”
Court records showed that Nellis made off with $9,500 between the bank robbery in West Hempstead on Dec. 17, 2019 and another in Valley Stream on Dec. 30, 2019, the New York Post reported.
He was awaiting sentencing in Central Islip federal court for violating his supervised release following a seven-year prison term for a 2012 crack trafficking conviction when he committed the robberies.
Court records showed the ex-convict should have been sentenced for that violation on Dec. 16 but his court-appointed defense attorney had gotten a postponement until March because the repeat offender was “scheduled to enter into an in-patient drug-treatment program,” according to the New York Post.
Under New York’s new bail reform, Nellis’ pattern of criminal behavior did nothing to keep the felon behind bars, so the Republican judge took matters into his own hands.
“Although under [Section] 510.10, this does not qualify as a bondable or bail offense, I find this defendant to be a menace to society,” Andrews explained as he ordered the repeat offender held.
Legal Aid attorney Diane Clarke argued that “there are no allegations there was an actual gun used” and appealed Andrews’ move, the New York Post.
A higher-level judge quickly reversed McAndrews’ order and Nellis was released with an ankle monitoring device.
On Jan. 13, Nassau County Judge Christopher Quinn ordered Nellis to be released without bail after he was fitted with a GPS tracking device, according to the New York Post.
But the transcript from Nellis’ next hearing on Jan. 15 proved that the career felon was a no-show for court.
Nassau County District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Jed Painter told the judge “we received a strap notification that he cut off his bracelet two days ago,” the New York Post reported.
That means the 40-year-old Nellis removed his ankle monitor as soon as he was released from custody and had disappeared off law enforcement’s radar.
Local police were furious about the entire situation, the New York Post reported.
“He’s out there, somewhere, able to commit another crime,” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder warned. “It’s insane, when you think who we’re letting out of jail. It has nothing to do with justice reform.”
“We’re not protecting the victims, and we’ve swung the pendulum way too far,” Commissioner Ryder said.
Nellis has not yet been captured, and neither Clarke nor his court-appointed federal defense attorney would comment on their client absconding from justice, the New York Post reported.
When asked, the judge who initially violated the state’s new bail reform law by not releasing Nellis scot-free refused to say anything about what had happened when his order was reversed.
“You know I can’t comment,” McAndrews said with a smile, according to the New York Post.