NEW YORK – A defendant with a history of weapons violations who disappeared once he was released without bail on new gun charges by a soft-on-crime judge was captured by federal agents in Puerto Rico, a law enforcement source told the New York Post on Wednesday.
Frankie Centeno has four gun-possession convictions that date back to 2003. He was arrested March 27 inside a Bronx restaurant for possessing a loaded, .45 caliber pistol tucked in his waistband.
The Bronx District Attorney’s Office sought a bail of $100,000 cash or $300,000 bond at his arraignment due to Centeno’s history of weapons violations as well as his propensity to violate probation and parole, a spokesperson said at the time.
Despite the request, Bronx Criminal Court Judge Valentina Morales set Centeno free on the condition that he report to the city Sheriff’s Office so officials could place an electronic monitoring device around his ankle.
However, Centeno never showed up, outraging law enforcement officials familiar with his case, The Post reported.
Centeno was nabbed on the Caribbean island on Tuesday night, the source said.
A spokesperson for the US Marshals Service later confirmed the arrest, crediting “intelligence gathered from the NYPD and US Department of Probation here in New York.”
Centeno “was taken into custody without incident,” the USMS spokesperson said.
Hence, the fugitive faces extradition to New York on the April 1 warrant for failure to appear in court in The Bronx and a March 29 warrant for allegedly violating terms of federal supervised release tied to his most recent conviction.
One source told the news outlet, “People were shocked he was released, given his record.”
A silencer-equipped Ruger MK1 pistol seized from Frankie Centeno when he was arrested by NYPD in 2018. (Image via New York Post)
Centeno ignored an order to get an ankle monitor following his release and fled to Puerto Rico. (Image via New York Post)
Morales is a former public defender and director of a nonprofit who was appointed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2021.
Valentina Morales, who was Senior Director of Justice Initiatives for The Fedcap Group and Sr. Director of The Women's Project for Wildcat, a company of The Fedcap Group, has been appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as a Criminal Court Judge. https://t.co/KV0AmCVBae pic.twitter.com/TCeUKIWKI1
— Wildcat Service Corp (@WildcatServCorp) August 12, 2021
She also sparked controversy in November 2021 when she refused a prosecution request to set bail for a mentally ill homeless man who was taken into custody three times in a manner of 36 hours during an alleged theft and robbery spree, the New York Post reported.
Morales was the third judge to arraign 63-year-old Agustin Garcia. At the time of arrest, he boasted to officers that he wouldn’t get locked up because “I have no record.” The criminal defendant was proven right as the judge sent him to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric exam without any bail.