Feds seek to reverse compassionate COVID release of killer John Bass

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A former Detroit drug kingpin and convicted murderer released on compassionate grounds last month is still a danger to society and should be sent back to prison, federal prosecutors said.

John Bass, a 51-year-old convicted killer who ran a drug trafficking ring called the Dog Pound, was released last month from a Pennsylvania prison after nearly 22 years behind bars due in part to concerns of contracting the coronavirus and health issues, including being clinically obese, the Detroit Free Press reported.

But federal prosecutors in Detroit are seeking to have that decision reversed, saying the decision by US District Judge Arthur Tarnow was “out of bounds,” court documents show.

“Bass ruled his drug organization for a decade with an almost psychotic ruthlessness,” Assistant US Attorney Andrew Goetz wrote in a motion filed Tuesday.

“He planned and ordered the murder of one rival. Then, he personally carried out the murder of the hitman, burning the victim’s body for good measure. He also organized the armed robbery of another rival, which ended in the man’s murder.”

Goetz said Bass remains a threat to public safety and still has “no answer” to his victim’s concerns about his “evil mind” and ongoing danger to others.

“They were calculated offenses, not crimes of passion or something that additional maturity would dissuade him from doing,” Goetz’s motion continued.

“Bass has also not aged out of his ability to harm people. He’s only 51 years old – eight years older than one of the starting quarterbacks in this year’s Super Bowl. He is more than capable of picking up where he left off.”

The appeal against Bass’ release is pending, the Detroit News reported.

Tarnow freed Bass on Jan. 22. After avoiding the death penalty, he was serving two life sentences for heading a crack cocaine drug ring that sold more than 55 kilograms in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.

He was also convicted in the 1996 killing of hitman Armenty Shelton, who had agreed to kill Bass’ half-brother, Patrick Webb, the newspaper reported. However, Bass was ultimately acquitted of ordering his half-brother’s murder, despite witnesses testifying to the contrary.

Bass, a father of six, was released after his attorney claimed he had turned his life around in prison, working as a drug counselor and custodian. His health problems of hypertension and pre-diabetes also put him at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 in the Pennsylvania lockup, where 46 percent of the state’s inmates have been infected, according to the order for Bass’ release.

Bass has since returned home to live with his wife in Eastpointe, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Bass, meanwhile, told WXYZ he has since obtained a driver’s license, got a new job and is reconnecting with relatives while vowing to stay out of trouble.

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