‘Very dangerous decision’: DA was not notified of accused drug trafficker’s release from jail

PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates has learned new information about the Allegheny County District Attorney’s efforts to reverse a decision by a local magistrate that released an accused drug trafficker from jail one day after his arrest.

Yan Carlos Pichardo Cepeda was arrested on Aug. 31 at the Downtown Pittsburgh Greyhound station. According to the Attorney General’s Office, he had nearly $2 million worth of drugs including enough fentanyl to kill more than a third of Pennsylvania’s population with him.

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11 Investigates has learned the DA filed a motion to reverse Magistrate Xander Orenstein’s decision to release Pichardo Cepeda on non-monetary bail.

The DA is citing two reasons. The first deals with “public danger” due to the amount of drugs involved. The second deals with Pichardo Cepeda being a “flight risk.” He’s from New York and no specific address is listed on court paperwork.

“Our office was not consulted and MDJ Orenstein’s decision was not communicated to our office. Questions regarding why MDJ Orenstein made this decision should be directed to his office. Now that we are aware of this, in our opinion, very dangerous decision, we are taking steps to have it reviewed by a higher court and reversed,” the DA’s Office said in a statement.

So, what happens now? The DA submitted what’s called a bail review request to the Allegheny County Pretrial Services. It’s a branch of the criminal court system that assists the court in making bond decisions.

Sources tell 11 Investigates that in Pichardo Cepeda’s case, Pretrial Services recommended he be held without bond. That’s the opposite of the decision ultimately made by Magistrate Orenstein.

The request will then go to Common Pleas Court and we’re told a hearing will likely be held in the next few days.

Magistrate Orenstein did respond to 11 Investigates inquiries via Facebook saying: “It is my policy to not make statements on ongoing cases. You can refer your questions to AOPC media relations.”

Pichardo Cepeda is due back in court on Sept. 19.

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