11 Investigates Exclusive: Judge’s decision under scrutiny for 3rd time in less than a year

PITTSBURGH — A District Justice is under fire for releasing a high-speed chase suspect.

It’s the third time in less than a year that the judge’s decisions have been scrutinized.

District Justice Xander Orenstein agreed to release the defendant on non-monetary bond, even though he was already out on a cash bond for a previous gun charge.

Now, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office is asking a judge to step in and change that.

Hermas Craddock of Sharpsburg was arrested last week after allegedly leading police on a high-speed chase that began in O’Hara Township and ended in the city of Pittsburgh.

According to the criminal complaint, Craddock nearly rammed two police cars, blew through stop signs and reached 80 mph in a 25 mph zone.

Police said they also recovered a gun he tossed out the window.

District Judge Orenstein agreed to release Craddock on a non-monetary bond.

11 Investigates has now learned that the district attorney’s office has requested a bail review because Craddock was already on a $25,000 bond awaiting trial on a firearms charge from 2022.

Sources said Judge Orenstein should have been aware of the previous firearm charge, and they said coupled with this new case, that’s enough to consider him a danger to the community and either deny bond or impose restrictions like electronic monitoring.

This is just the latest controversy involving Justice Orenstein.

Last September, Orenstein released Yan Cepeda on non-monetary bond after he was arrested at the bus station in downtown Pittsburgh with nearly $2 million worth of drugs, according to law enforcement authorities.

The District Attorney’s office filed a motion to reverse Orenstein’s decision, but it was too late.

Cepeda, who told authorities he lived in New York City, hasn’t been seen since he was let go.

And in January, Orenstein granted a non-monetary bond to Daniel Velazquez, who allegedly attacked and beat a 71-year-old man in downtown Pittsburgh.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala, who has been critical of Orenstein’s decisions, said Velazquez should not have been released.

At a news conference shortly after the release, the District Attorney didn’t hold back.

“I have some of the worst judges,” said Zappala.

11 Investigates reached out to the District Justice and left a message with their staff.

As of this writing, Orenstein has not responded.

In the past, Orenstein has declined to comment on these decisions.

Craddock remains free but that could change if a Judge decides to revoke his bond.

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