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Bergen judge threatens to end low-bail ‘side deals’

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

CVP EXCLUSIVE: Bergen County’s presiding judge served notice on area bail bondsmen to immediately stop what she described as “side deals” that enable the release of accused criminals at much lower bails than intended — or she’ll put an end to it herself.

“They thwart the rules to stay in business, but it’s unacceptable,” Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi said yesterday, while reinstating a $500,000 cash bail on an accused member of the notorious James Bond Gang.

Hakeem Chance and his attorney, Vincent Basile, in Judge DeAvila-Silebi’s courtroom (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

DeAvila-Silebi noted that Hakeem Chance got a bail reduction to $350,000, after which his mother posted $10,000 to secure his release — not the $35,000 (10%) amount required.

She agreed to pay off the remaining $25,000 at $250 a month, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor David Calviello said, alerting the judge.

“This is basically unacceptable,” DeAvila-Silebi responded. “The bail bondsmen have been getting very creative, working out these side deals. They’d rather take 1 percent than 10[%] and stay in business.  But it’s not going to be allowed.”

Chance, 22, is one of several defendants in separate cases involving the infamous Bond gang and offshoots that are wending their way through the courts.

Among the charges against him are more than a half-dozen counts of assault against police after he allegedly used his BMW X6 to ram several police cars as they tried to stop him last July following a Nutley burglary.

Acting on a search warrant on Chance’s house and car, police found burglary tools, ski masks and gloves, as well as amounts of marijuana and cocaine, authorities said.

He was free on bail at the time after being arrested in Teaneck months earlier in connection with two home break-ins.

Instead of focusing on whether he would be willing to accept a plea in the Teaneck burglary, attention in DeAvila-Silebi’s court yesterday was on the bail arrangements.

“Mr. Chance’s mother has posted $10,000 and not the $35,000 that is required,” Calviello, the assistant prosecutor, told the judge. “$250 a month times whatever — there is no way she will ever be able to meet the requirement.”

DeAvila-Silebi agreed, returning Chance’s bail to the original $500,000 — in full — that she set when he was first arraigned. She also ordered that no further bail hearings for Chance be held.

“This is not an ordinary burglary,” DeAvila-Silebi said. “This is very sophisticated, organized crime.

“You have a GPS in your car. It will show everywhere you went,” the judge added. “It’s kind of hard to say you weren’t at the site of a burglary.”

Chance is due back in court for a May 6 plea cutoff on the multiple burglary charges he faces.

Jury selection is expected to begin this week in the trial of other accused members of the ring, including Akeem “Light” Boone.

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