Request to increase Jason Priest’s bond to $100,000 denied, but judge places him on electronic surveillance

Jason Priest copy

Jason Priest | Photo courtesy of Adams County Jail

QUINCY — An Adams County judge denied a request from the Adams County State’s Attorney’s office to modify Jason Priest’s bond, but she ordered Priest to be placed on GPS electronic surveillance monitoring.

Priest, 50, now has 12 separate cases pending against him, and the state’s attorney’s office expects to file additional charges later this week. Most are Class A and Class C misdemeanors, but he also is charged with criminal damage to government property, a Class 3 felony, and threatening a public official, also a Class 3 felony.

Tuesday afternoon’s hearing in Adams County Circuit Court before Judge Debra Wellborn was to address a motion to modify Priest’s bond. Priest previously posted a $5,500 bond on Aug. 30, and bonds of $4,500 and $1,000 on Sept. 2. 

Assistant state’s attorney Ryan Parker asked for Wellborn to set Priest’s bond at $100,000 and order him to stay 2,000 feet from any of Quincy’s public schools in light of recent disorderly conduct charges against him.

“We believe that given the frequency and amount of cases that are stacked, and the typical amount of bond in these cases have been insufficient to protect the public, we’re asking for a higher bond,” Parker said. “Mr. Priest has been standing adjacent to Quincy Public School grounds, accosting the school children as they go to and from the school property. So clearly, that’s inappropriate.

“(The request for the $100,000 bond) is reflective of the amount of cases in the recent past and the type of conduct — harassment of school children, making threats against public officials, domestic battery, criminal trespass real property. It’s definitely a situation where enough is enough. Continuing to nominally posting the bonds just isn’t enough to protect the public.”

Parker also requested for Priest to stay off the property of the Chestnut Market, 1001 N. Fifth, after reportedly threatening a patron of that business.

Public defender John Citro bristled at Parker’s use of the word “nominal.”

“What I see here is a Class C misdemeanor and a $15,000 bond,” Citro said. “That’s anything but nominal. There’s another Class C misdemeanor and a $10,000 bond. I would call these things the exact opposite of nominal. They are rather extraordinary amounts for a Class C misdemeanor.

“The state has not presented to officers to testify. They have presented no alleged victims to testify. They’re asking the court to rely on hearsay and police reports to increase his bond each time. The state is saying, ‘We’ve alleged him of a crime. We’ve set the bond. Now he’s allegedly committed more crimes, and we want to use our more allegations to increase his previous bonds.’ For the state to say a $10,000 bond and a $15,000 bond is ‘nominal’ is bordering on ridiculous.”

Public defender Todd Nelson, who represents Priest in one of his cases, called the state’s request “triple dipping.”

“The court has already taken into consideration all of the cases that are alleged to have occurred before that when the court set (higher) bonds,” he said. “We have not only the initial setting of the bond, and then not only a double dipping, but today in effect, the state is asking the court to do a triple dipping and go forward and again reconsider bond.”

Wellborn questioned why electronic monitoring had not been considered before Tuesday’s hearing.

“He could pay for that electronic monitoring from the cost of the bonds that he’s already posted,” she said. “I’m just not in a position today to order an increase in the amount of cash bond that Mr. Priest just posted.”

Wellborn also said if Priest doesn’t comply with the electronic monitoring, she might consider in-home detention based on electronic monitoring.

She also thought keeping Priest 2,000 feet from any public school was excessive. She thought two blocks was a reasonable request.

“What (distance) would that be?” she asked the courtroom.

“Your Honor, it’s 500 (feet) a block,” Priest said in the only statement he made during the hearing. “I’ve already done it.”

Wellborn then modified the bond, ordering Priest to stay 1,000 feet from any Quincy public school. 

Wellborn ordered two misdemeanors — criminal trespass to state land from 2021 and disorderly conduct from 2020 — to be placed on the October trial docket, and any other cases from 2022 to be placed on the November trial docket.

She also said she was recusing herself from the Class 3 felony case for which Priest allegedly said he was going to “take out” Judge Tad Brenner as the court was weighing a larger bond. Citro said he also was recusing himself from that case.

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