(WXYZ) — He was serving two life sentences with no hope of parole for murder and running a major drug ring in Detroit in the 1990s. Now he’s out and living among us. COVID-19 made it happen.
This is the case of John Bass, now 51. He was the leader of the Young Boys Incorporated Detroit drug gang.
Bass ordered the killing of his own half-brother. Then Bass killed that hitman and set him on fire. He threatened another man, shooting him in the chest, among others.
“Even the victims to this day remain scared of him,” says former Federal Prosecutor Anjali Prasad who now works as a Defense Attorney.
Prasad says she sees this case both ways.
Federal judge Arthur Tarnow ordered the release of Bass calling him a prison success. Judge Tarnow cited that while in prison, Bass completed a GED high school education, became a certified life coach, did job training, and went through a transformation redemption.
“He has been sentenced to life and he’s not sitting there watching TV all day every day like so many other inmates we know,” Prasad said.
The Judge also said Bass weighs 322 pounds and was at a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
Bass’s defense attorney says in the prison where Bass was kept in Pennsylvania 46% of inmates have COVDI or had it.
The U. S. Attorney in Detroit is appealing the release saying the Judge has abused his discretion and Bass remains a danger to the public.
In December, Judge Tarnow released Ronald Segars, who was doing time for drugs and gun crimes. The Judge noted Segars had a stroke, walked with a cane, and had high blood pressure.
Segars told the judge he was older now, he changed and didn’t want to return to the streets. Days later Segars would be charged with shooting and injuring his fiancé and her mother during an argument inside a house on Detroit’s west side.
“This is a Judge that believes in human redemption and second chances,” Prasad points out.
John Bass talked with me on the phone. He’s living in Eastpointe. He says he has a driver’s license, a new job, is reconnecting with family, and will stay out of trouble.
Editor's note: Since this story aired, Bass has returned to federal custody after being released due to COVID.