Sucker-punching sex offender is re-arrested after public outcry, Gov. Hochul tries to take credit

The convicted sex offender who knocked out a random restaurant patron, leaving the victim with a fractured skull and brain bleed, has been re-arrested on a parole violation, allegedly because of the influence of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

During a press conference Friday, the governor announced suspect Van Phu Bui’s arrest and then sought to take credit for it.

“Our team has been in contact with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to talk about the actual charges that were filed, because under the laws that we’ve strengthened to support keeping people off the street who are dangerous, we want to make sure that our laws are being properly executed. But I took action in my own hands,” she claimed.

“I directed the Department of Corrections and community supervision to immediately examine whether or not this parole violation occurred. Yes, it did. You could tell it occurred. This was a person on lifetime parole, and as of minutes ago, that person is now in custody. That is at my direction. The people of New York need to know that, as their governor, I’ll stand up and protect them.”

Listen:

The remarks sparked immediate backlash from those who know better.

At a separate press conference of his own, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who’s running against Hochul in the upcoming New York gubernatorial race, slammed her, decrying her efforts to get Phu re-arrested as “less than the acceptable minimum.”

“I actually don’t know of a single governor in the entire union, across the country, who in this case wouldn’t at the bare minimum see a clear-as-day parole violation. What we need to see is calling the legislature back into session for a special session to deal with cashless bail,” he said, according to the New York Post.

And therein lies the crux. Hochul is a staunch supporter of the state’s cashless bail laws that have allowed an untold number of violent criminals to return to the streets. In addition, she’s refused to fully fix the law despite pressure from victims and advocates.

According to the Post’s own editorial board, which was outright offended by her taking credit for Phu’s re-arrest, while it may be true that Phu was re-arrested because of her, “[t]he real issue is that such releases are now typical, all across the state.”

“The inability of judges to even consider dangerousness when it comes to remanding suspects has created a perpetual, vicious cycle of violent perps getting nabbed and let out to do more mayhem,” the board wrote.

“Who’s to blame? Ultimately the same state leader who snatched up Phu in embarrassment: Kathy Hochul. Instead [of] going to the mat with the Legislature to fix those disastrous reforms, she signed off with much fanfare on empty tweaks. And though she has the power to boot un-prosecutors like Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, she won’t.”

In the spring, Hochul signed into law a small batch of reforms ostensibly designed to fix the law. But as hinted at by the Post, the reforms did virtually nothing.

As previously reported, Phu was caught on surveillance camera on Aug. 12th knocking out a random restaurant patron with whom he’d had no prior interactions. The victim was left with a fractured skull and brain bleed. As of late this week, he was still in a coma.

“The 52-year-old victim – shown [in surveillance footage] carrying a backpack – was leaving the Fuego Tipico Restaurant on East 188th Street near the Grand Concourse in Fordham Manor around 10:45 p.m. [last] Friday when he stopped near a group of people chatting outside,” according to the New York Post.

“He was followed out by a balding man wearing a black T-shirt. Footage released early Wednesday shows the man putting on what appear to be work gloves before slugging the victim from behind, causing him to fall onto the sidewalk and hit his head.”

But following Phu’s arrest on an attempted murder charge, local prosecutors lowered the charges to just assault and harassment, both misdemeanors, and a judge subsequently let him loose because misdemeanor charges aren’t eligible for bail.

This sparked massive outrage, both because of the nature of Phu’s offense and also because of his criminal history. It turned out that he was a convicted sex offender.

“Phu was convicted of first-degree sex abuse in The Bronx in 1995 and was sentenced to six years to life in prison, according to state records. He was paroled in 2019 and is now registered as a Level 3 sex offender — the most serious designation — for sexually abusing the 17-year-old girl in 1994,” the Post notes.

So yes, it’s nice that Hochul intervened in this case, but the problem is there are countless cases just like it where the governor has and continues to do nothing.

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