Bail group closes after being sued for helping free serial offender who shot server

A California bail reform group backed by prominent celebrities has shut down after being sued for freeing a serial criminal who, less than a week later, attempted to murder a waiter in Las Vegas .

The Bail Project – whose supporters include Danny Glover, John Legend and Richard Branson – announced that it had halted operations due to restructuring in early December, 8 NewsNow reported.

Its closure comes after posting $3,000 bond for burglary suspect Rashawn Gaston-Anderson in December 2021.

Six days later, Gaston-Anderson shot Chengyan Wang 11 times in Chinatown, 8 NewsNow reported.

As part of a plea deal, the 24-year-old was found guilty of attempted robbery and maiming, both with lethal weapon upgrades, according to News 3 Las Vegas.

Gaston-Anderson was sentenced in December to 7 to 18 years in prison for the shooting.

Chengyan Wang, a waiter at Shanghai Taste in Las Vegas, was shot dead by Rashawn Gaston-Anderson, a repeat offender who was released with the help of The Bail Project.
Courtesy of Joe Muscaglione/ShangHa

The waiter, who was hit by seven bullets in the Shanghai Taste attack, is suing the nonprofit for his role in freeing Gaston-Anderson despite his criminal past.

Wang – who is also suing Gaston-Anderson and Shanghai Plaza owner US Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp. – seeks more than $15,000 in damages from each defendant, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“He has scars all over his body. He cannot move his shoulder beyond a certain height. I don’t know how (the bullets) missed a vital artery,” the victim’s attorney, Kory Kaplan, told the newspaper.

Injured server Chengyan Wang
Wang nearly died after being hit by seven bullets fired by Rashawn Gaston-Anderson.
Taste of Shanghai

The lawsuit accuses The Bail Project of failing to consider Gaston-Anderson’s potential danger to the community given his current and past affairs.

In 2018, he pleaded guilty to attempted robbery in Las Vegas and was sentenced to 18 months probation.

The following year he was convicted of felony burglary in New York and in 2021 he was convicted of auto theft in Illinois, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told the outlet.

In November 2021, he was also arrested for pimping and carrying a concealed weapon, 8 NewsNow reported.

He was reportedly released without bail and ordered to stay out of trouble.

However, he was arrested again the next day for burglary and theft. The repeat offender was later released from jail after the nonprofit posted his $3,000 bond.

“Normally when a bond is posted, a cash bond, it’s a family member or friend who knows the defendant,” Wolfson told the Review-Journal.

“You could say, in a sense, that they vouch for the person. They are risking their own money. A family member shows up, a brother, a friend, and if he puts in $3,000 and that person doesn’t show up or does it again, he loses his own money,” he said.

“In this case, we have a national out-of-state organization with little or no ties to our community that is posting cash bail,” the prosecutor added.

Rashawn Gaston-Anderson
Rashawn Gaston-Anderson was released from jail after the nonprofit posted his $3,000 bond.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police

The Bail Project, which campaigns against the cash bond system nationwide and provides free bail funds to the poor, has never been registered as a bond agent with the Nevada Division of Insurance, as required by state law, Kaplan told the newspaper.

“They act like a bailout agency that bails people out with little or no due diligence,” he said.

Cameron Pipe, regional director of The Bail Project, called the shooting “an absolute tragedy”.

“The Bail Project, speaking for the Bail Project myself, found this absolutely shocking,” Pipe told 8 News Now last year.

“Every decision we make at The Bail Project goes through the same thorough review,” he said when asked if the band noticed any red flags before posting Gaston-Anderson’s bail.

The Bail Project’s assistant general counsel, Katie Poor, told the outlet that the group provides “free bail assistance and what we call community release.”

She pointed out that people are innocent until proven guilty and bail conditions are set by a judge.

Las Vegas District Court Judge Amy Chelini set Gaston-Anderson’s bail at $3,000 at the request of the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, according to court records cited by 8 News Now.

He was reportedly one of 51 people The Bail Project has bailed out in the Las Vegas area since February 2021.

Of those, 91% returned to their court dates, a spokesperson told the outlet.

Kaplan, Wang’s attorney, alleges that US Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp. is responsible for failing to provide adequate security at the time of the shooting, the Review-Journal reported.

Eric Chen, his legal counsel in Las Vegas, could not be reached for comment by the newspaper. A representative for The Bail Project in Pasadena also could not be reached.

On its website, the group states that it “combats mass incarceration by disrupting the bail system, one person at a time.

“We are restoring the presumption of innocence, reuniting families and challenging a system that criminalizes race and poverty,” he says. “We are on a mission to end cash bail and create a more fair, equitable and humane pretrial system.”

Clark County Public Defender Darin Imlay acknowledged that his office played a role in bringing Project Bail to the Las Vegas Valley, but had no formal relationship with the group.

Imlay told the Review-Journal that the group accepts referrals from any attorney, including private attorneys, but decides for itself whether to bail someone out.

Gaston-Anderson said he needed a co-signer and his public defender referred him to The Bail Project.

“I probably couldn’t have co-signed for myself because I’m not from here,” he told 8 News Now from the Clark County Detention Center.

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