Celebrity-backed nonprofit shuts down after being sued for helping release serial offender who shot Las Vegas waiter 11 times

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Before you read:

A California-based bail reform nonprofit has ceased its Las Vegas operations after being sued for helping release a serial offender who shot a waiter in the city’s Chinatown less than a week later.

The Bail Project, which is reportedly backed by celebrities such as Danny Glover, John Legend and Richard Branson, posted a $3,000 bond for Rashawn Gaston-Anderson in December 2021, according to KLAS.

Six days later, Gaston-Anderson, 24, shot Shanghai Taste worker Chengyan Wang 11 times, seven of which were critical hits.

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Gaston-Anderson pleaded guilty to felony mayhem and attempted robbery with a weapon in November and was sentenced to seven-to-18 years in prison earlier this month.

Having suffered permanent consequences from the incident, Wang is now suing The Bail Project for more than $15,000 in damages. He is also suing Shanghai Plaza owner U.S. Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp., as well as Gaston-Anderson himself, each for the same amount.

Gaston-Anderson’s criminal past includes convictions for attempted grand larceny, felony burglary and auto theft, according to the New York Post. In November 2021, he was arrested for pandering and carrying a concealed weapon, for which he was released from custody but apprehended the very next day, once again, for theft and burglary.

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Gaston-Anderson was in jail for said charges when The Bail Project entered with a $3,000 bond. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said it is almost as if the nonprofit was vouching for the offender.

“Normally when bail is posted, a cash bail, it is a family member or friend who is familiar with the accused,” Wolfson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal days after Wang’s shooting. “One can say, in a sense, they are vouching for the person. They are risking their own money. A family member comes forward, a brother, a friend, and if they put up $3,000 and this person doesn’t show up or re-offends, they lose their own money. In this case, we have an out-of-state national organization with little or no ties to our community who puts up the cash bail.”

The Bail Project, which operates in around 30 cities nationwide, has also never registered as a bail agent with Nevada, according to Wang’s lawyer Kory Kaplan.

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“They’re going around as a bailing agency bailing people out with no or little due diligence,” Kaplan told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a recent interview, adding that Wang has “scars all over his body” and that he “can’t move his shoulder over a certain height.”

In a statement to Deadline, The Bail Project denied that its Las Vegas closure was related to Wang’s suit. Instead, the move was reportedly part of an “ongoing recalibration” that occurred earlier this month.

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“The Bail Project closed its Vegas branch earlier this month but it had nothing to do with the litigation,” a spokesperson said. “As an advocacy organization that is also a service provider, The Bail Project seeks to maximize the number of people we can help annually with our limited resources.”

“We monitor the volume of people served by our local sites and periodically reassess the allocation of staff and bail capital across the country accordingly. As part of this ongoing recalibration, we closed our site in Vegas earlier this month.”

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