The murder charge that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg filed against bodega worker Jose Alba is the latest outrage to result from the progressive agenda the top prosecutor unveiled after taking office in January, current and former city cops said Thursday.
Ex-cop Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the case amounted to “an agenda crime” being pursued by Bragg – noting that Alba “was given little alternative” when ex-con Austin Simon attacked him behind the counter of his Hamilton Heights store Friday night.
“This is an office that is chock-a-block full of screwy interpretations and bizarre agendas,” O’Donnell said.
“The DA itself is surrounded by people who think, ‘Behind every profitable business is a crime.'”
A veteran city cop fumed, “So, the guy who was defending himself is in Rikers and the guys who repeatedly do the crimes are on the street?”
“Bragg needs to be removed,” the cop said.
“We always knew Bragg was for the criminals. I guess he just put his stamp on it. ”
Another source said the clerk “did not pick a fight” when Simon entered the store Friday after his girlfriend accused Alba of snatching a bag of potato chips from her daughter’s hand when the mom’s food-stamps card was electronically rejected as payment.
“This guy got up and went to work and had to be subjected to an attack. Now he’s going to jail? ” the source said of Alba.
“They should give him the key to the city.”
Bragg’s decision to charge Alba with second-degree murder came after he repeatedly sparked criticism by downgrading charges or lowering bail for other defendants under terms of the controversial, soft-on-crime “Day One” directives he gave Manhattan’s prosecutors.
Those cases include:
- Career criminal Christian Hall had a felony robbery charge reduced to petit larceny and was released without bail after he allegedly threatened workers at a TJ Maxx store in Chelsea with a pair of scissors on Jan. 6. He was busted again on Feb. 9 in an unprovoked, sucker-punch attack on a city sanitation worker in the same neighborhood.
- Ex-con Wiliam Rolon also had a felony robbery charge reduced to petit larceny after he allegedly threatened a Lower East Side drug store worker with a knife while stealing $ 2,000 worth of merchandise on Jan. 8. At his arraignment, Rolon was told by the judge that he should “feel lucky” because “the newly elected district attorney has new policies” and Rolon otherwise “would have faced a long period of time in jail if convicted.”
- Marcus Wright scored a sweetheart plea bargain after he was accused of stealing nearly $ 1,400 worth of merchandise from Frame, a Soho boutique, on April 24. Less than a month later, Wright was busted again for allegedly punching a woman in the face during a random , May 13 attack while she was looking at her cellphone in Chelsea.
O’Donnell traced “the root” of Simon’s fatal stabbing to “the complete collapse of the rule of law” in the Big Apple.
“When you disempower – cripple – the police, it falls on the shoulders of everyday New Yorkers,” he said.
“These disputes are rampant, and they’re ugly, and they’re potentially lethal. People walking onto buses saying ‘I’m not paying my fare.’ People walking into stores taking out whatever they want, using cards that are invalid, asking for goods. ”
O’Donnell added: “This is on the shoulders of the people – in particular, prosecutors – and those who have argued that we’re better off without the police.”
Bragg’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Prosecutors had initially requested that Alba be held on $ 500,000 bail at his arraignment Saturday, citing a planned trip to the Dominican Republic next week as proof that he was a flight risk. A judge set his bail at $ 250,000.
In court Thursday, prosecutors said they had negotiated a new bail package with Alba’s defense attorney and a judge agreed to the new amount of $ 50,000 – allowing Alba’s relatives and boss to put up the $ 5,000 needed to spring him on a bail bond.