A Columbia Heights man bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund after repeatedly failing to appear in court in several cases, including felonies, has now been charged with robbing a Minneapolis business last week during which an employee was assaulted.
Justin Ivan Silva Nicolas, 20, was charged in May 2022 in two separate felony theft cases just days apart: one in Anoka County and one in Hennepin County.
He was released on zero bail in each case after making initial court appearances even though he had been wanted on a warrant for nearly a year at the time of the Anoka County arrest for failure to appear in court in another pending case involving a misdemeanor charge of recklessly handling a dangerous weapon.
Silva Nicolas subsequently failed to show for scheduled court appearances four times in the Hennepin County felony theft case, and warrants were issued each time for his arrest.
Hennepin County judges Rachel Hughey, Luis Bartolomei, and Marta M. Chou would release Silva Nicolas three more times without bail required following three separate arrests on the warrants for failure to appear.
After having been released on zero bail several times, Silva Nicolas went on to be charged in at least three new cases, including a charge of carrying a gun without a permit in Hennepin County, and two separate theft cases in Ramsey County.
After being arrested on Nov. 29, 2022, on the fourth warrant for failure to appear in the Hennepin County felony theft case, as well as a warrant for failure to appear in the gun-carrying case, a conditional release bail amount was finally set at $5,000.
Court records show the Minnesota Freedom Fund supplied $5,000 bail a few days later, and Silva Nicolas was released from jail on Dec. 13, 2022.
MINNESOTA FREEDOM FUND TO THE RESCUE!
Despite failing to appear in court numerous times in numerous cases, MFF thought Silva Nicolas was a good candidate to bail out.
MFF paid the $5,000 bail on Dec. 13, 2022, and Silva Nicholas was released from custody. pic.twitter.com/kzP2hgMzUN
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) February 15, 2023
While still on release under MFF’s bailout, Silva Nicolas has now been charged with felony first-degree aggravated robbery.
Police were dispatched on Thursday, Feb. 9 just before 8 p.m. on a report of a robbery of an auto parts business near the intersection of East Lake Street and Clinton Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. The suspects were described as three Hispanic males in their 20s, and one had a knife. Further audio indicated that the suspects “attacked” a manager while stealing a jack and a tire repair kit. Police quickly arrived on site and detained at least two of the suspects. A vehicle was reported to have left the scene where police found a discarded tire repair kit.
Silva Nicolas was charged on Friday with one felony count of first-degree aggravated robbery. The charging document says that an employee of the store (referred to as the victim) recognized the suspects as individuals who had previously stolen from the store.
A disturbance ensued after a witness observed the suspects stealing merchandise and asked them to leave. The victim told police that he attempted to wrestle the stolen items away from the suspects, and while he did so, one of the suspects took out a knife and attempted to stab the victim. The three men were eventually forced out of the store.
Police arrived as the suspects were leaving the store and they immediately detained Silva Nicolas. Co-defendant William Nicholas Silva, 18, was detained after he initially tried to flee from police. A third suspect remained unidentified, according to the charging documents.
Police obtained surveillance video from the store that showed William Silva and the unidentified third suspect walking out with merchandise. The victim closed the door, and Silva Nicolas made contact with the victim. After Silva Nicolas exited the store, the video showed Silva Nicolas pushing and forcing his way back into the store in a threatening manner. The other two suspects were behind him and coming back towards the door. The victim picked up a tool to defend himself, and the suspects then left the store with merchandise.
Both defendants remain in custody on $100,000 bail each.
Alpha News and Crime Watch Minneapolis have both documented numerous dangerous and repeat offenders bailed out by the controversial bail fund, many of whom have been charged with new crimes, including murder, serious assaults, and sex crimes after being bailed out by the fund.
Bills were introduced in the last legislative session to put reins on or outright ban the fund from supplying no-strings bail. However, with Democrats in charge of the legislature for the next two years, there is little chance of those bills making headway any time soon.
In fact, MFF announced last week that it has launched a new sister 501(c)(4) organization that will wield its $40 million celebrity-funded war chest to lobby for legislation and endorse political candidates to help end the state’s cash bail system.
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.