25 Investigates: Lawmakers target bail fund for ‘reckless use of tax-exempt donations’

25 Investigates: Lawmakers target bail fund for ‘reckless use of tax-exempt donations’

BOSTON — A group of 12 state lawmakers is calling for an investigation of the Massachusetts Bail Fund, a Cambridge based organization that uses donations to release people from jail while they await trial.

25 Investigates has reported extensively on the fund and the criticism it has received for freeing “dangerous” sex offenders and people charged with violent crimes.

Sen. Ryan Fattman, R-Sutton, told Investigative Reporter Ted Daniel he first learned of the fund while riding along with Boston Police in the area of Government Center.

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“Within the first five minutes of that ride-along, one of the police officers notified me that that individual over to my right, was released by the Massachusetts Bail Fund after shooting an individual and he’s walking free on the streets,” Sen. Fattman said.

The fund has posted bail for hundreds of defendants in Suffolk, Worcester and Essex Counties including:

  • $15,000 for the release of Shawn McClinton, a convicted sex offender facing rape charges. McClinton is accused of raping another woman after his release.
  • $30,000 for Tyler Jacquard, a registered level 3 sex offender from Melrose. Jacquard was arrested in June after video of him surfaced allegedly exposing himself to girls as young as 13 while parked at a shopping plaza in Lynnfield.
  • $85,000 for Karmau Cotton-Landers, 25, who is accused of shooting someone in the daytime on Boston Common in early April.

Sen. Fattman has requested a senate committee hearing to look into the fund’s use of tax-exempt donations.

“I would like to see their tax returns, I’d like to see some of their deliberations over why they made the decisions they did," said Fattman.

He says he believes many people donated to the fund to bail out protesters after the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minnesota police.

“That’s really where I think the tax exempt status comes into play. Are you misleading people who are trying to do the right thing,” said Fattman.

According to the only publicly available tax documents, the Massachusetts Bail fund collected $940,566 in 2018. 25 Investigates asked the non-profit to provide more recent financials, but that request went unanswered.

According to the financial publication, Insider, “Community bail funds across the US received a total of approximately $75 million in donations in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.”

25 Investigates has requested to speak with the representatives from Massachusetts Bail Fund several times. We also recently asked if the organization had a success story to share. By email, a spokesperson wrote, “The Massachusetts Bail Fund is not available for press inquiries at this time.”