A pair of parolees who have pleaded not guilty to new felonies associated with a robbery at a Concord mall in May have had their combined bail set in excess of $100 million in what may be a Contra Costa County record.
On May 12, 37-year-old Vincent Timmons and another unidentified suspect allegedly forced employees of the Round1 arcade at the Sunvalley Shopping Center into a secure cash room at gunpoint.
Police say the masked suspects zip-tied the victims' wrists and stole an undisclosed amount of money. One of the victims freed herself and called the police, but the robbers had already fled by the time officers arrived.
A two-month investigation was launched after police found reason to believe the suspects accessed the business through an employee entrance that's usually locked.
Detectives identified Timmons as one of the primary suspects. They also allege that 43-year-old Gary Dillahunty, who was working as a security guard, facilitated the robbery as part of a criminal conspiracy.
Timmons was arrested last week in San Francisco, and police executing a search warrant allegedly found an illegal assault weapon and some cocaine. Dillahunty was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in Vacaville on Tuesday.
The third suspect, who has not yet been identified in court records, remains at large.
Timmons and Dillahunty have pleaded not guilty, but Timmons' bail has been set at more than $70 million and Dillahunty's is over $40 million.
Figures about record-high bail amounts set in Contra Costa County were not readily available Wednesday, but those sums are not typical.
Tiffany Li, who is facing murder charges in San Mateo County, made national headlines in 2017 when she posted $35 million bail -- but she's a wealthy heiress with overseas connections and prosecutors argued she could present a flight risk.
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe commented at the time that it was the highest bail on record in San Mateo County and possibly the highest ever in California.
White-collar criminal Bernie Madoff, who famously confessed to his role in a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme in 2009, initially had his bail set at just $10 million.
A spokesman for Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton declined to comment on the unusually high bail amount, and officials with Contra Costa County Superior Court did not immediately respond to a request for information Wednesday, but a spokeswoman for the Concord Police Department said Timmons' and Dillahunty's bail amounts reflect the charges and enhancements alleged as well as the defendants' criminal histories.
Both men are charged with kidnapping to commit another crime, a $1 million offense, according to a 2018 bail schedule available online at https://bit.ly/30TgmOF. Bail for second-degree robbery, which both men are also charged with, is $50,000.
But there are special allegations that they used a firearm in the commission of a gang-related offense, as well as something called "street terrorism," which involves a prison gang and carries a potential life sentence.
Despite the serious nature of the allegations, the case is taking place against the backdrop of a statewide bail reform movement, driven in large part by the late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who announced plans to challenge bail in every single criminal case that went through his office and ultimately changed the legal landscape as a result of the ensuing court battle.
A law abolishing California's cash-bail system and replacing it with a risk-assessment system evaluating the threat to public safety posed by individual defendants was signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018.
It was scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, 2019, but its implementation was put on hold due to a referendum challenging it at the ballot box in November 2020.
A bail-bonds trade association known as the American Bail Coalition has called the change reckless and argued that abolishing cash bail could result in the release of dangerous criminals.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California countered, arguing that the bail industry has made millions off the backs of desperate families, including those impacted by racial and socioeconomic inequities inherent to the American criminal justice system.
In their initial court appearances, Timmons and Dillahunty were represented by lawyers from the Office of the Public Defender and the Alternate Defender Office, respectively. It's not yet clear which attorney will represent them when they return to court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 2, so there was nobody available to comment on their behalf.
Both men declined requests for a jailhouse interview Wednesday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.