Judge Sets Bail At $500,000 for Younger Reddy

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OAKLAND - A federal judge set $500,000 bail Friday for the son of a wealthy Berkeley landlord who has been charged with helping his father illegally smuggle Indian girls into the United States.

Vijay Kumar Lakireddy, the son of Lakireddy Bali Reddy, appeared in a federal courtroom after being charged with one felony count of visa fraud. Law enforcement officials have also alleged that Lakireddy asked his father if he could have sex with one of the immigrant girls.

Assistant U.S. District Attorney John Kennedy

recommended that bail be set at $1 million, arguing that the vast holdings of Lakireddy's family make him a flight risk.

But Lakireddy's attorneys argued he has strong community ties and asked bail to be set at $100,000. Lakireddy and his wife live in Berkeley and have two young children.

Defense attorney George Cotsirilos said that despite the "aspersions" cast against his client, Lakireddy surrendered himself to the police voluntarily and showed up at his scheduled bail hearing. Cotsirilos added that Lakireddy is facing only one charge against him.

Cotsirilos also said the usual bond for similar charges is between $25,000 and $50,000.

"I don't think (Lakireddy) should be treated any more harshly than anyone else," he said.

But Magistrate Judge Wayne Brazil said it is not common for defendants to have the assets available to Lakireddy. Lakireddy's family fortune is estimated at more than $50 million, according to court documents.

"The thing that affects the magnitude of the bond received is the value of the assets the defendant has," Brazil said. "And he obviously has extreme ties to another country and a close relative who's facing substantial pressure here."

Brazil decided to set bail at $500,000 and require that the defendant comply with certain conditions. As part of his bail, Lakireddy is prohibited from consuming alcohol and using nonprescription drugs, and he is subject to substance abuse testing.

When Cotsirilos told Brazil that the alcohol prohibition was unjustified, Brazil responded that Lakireddy has a DUI conviction on his record.

Brazil also forbade Lakireddy from talking to potential witnesses in the cases against him and his father. Specifically, Brazil warned the defendant against having contact with the girls he has been charged with helping to bring into this country illegally.

Lakireddy's father, who allegedly had sex with three girls he imported from India, was released on $10 million bail earlier in the week. In accordance with the conditions of his bail, he is residing with a brother in Merced.

At the hearing, Lakireddy's uncle and half brother signed documents securing the defendant's bail.

If Lakireddy and his father are indicted by a federal grand jury, they are both scheduled to be formally arraigned in court on Feb. 7.


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