Free Daily Headlines

News

Set your text size: A A A

Judge jails 4X DWI defendant on $1M bond

Mostafa Hendi was jailed on a $1 million bond pending Mostafa Hendi was jailed on a $1 million bond pending

A repeat drunk driver who slipped through the cracks numerous times may finally have met a reckoning.

Mostafa Kamel Hendi, 35, faces four charges of driving while impaired and a mile-long rap sheet of other charges that include speeding, open container, resisting arrest, cocaine possession, burglary, possessing a narcotic while jailed, failure to appear and even stealing a dog.
“This particular individual is very, very dangerous.,” said Ellen Pitt, a court observer for MADD.
If end of line did not come for Hendi in a Henderson County courtroom on Oct. 28, he could see it from there. Citing Hendi’s courtroom behavior, flouting of the law and long criminal record, District Court Judge Gene B. Johnson jailed the defendant on a bond of $1,060,000.
In a 13 findings of fact in support of the high bond, the judge noted that he has seen Hendi many times in court. “Practically every time, the defendant has had to be addressed by courtroom security” for violating rules or disrupting court, he said, adding “it is obvious” that Hendi “has no respect for the laws of this state or this court … is a menace to society and represents a clear and present danger to this community.”


New law strengthens magistrate training

 

In Pitt’s mind, Hendi is also a poster child for what her organization, the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys and the state’s Impaired Driving Task Force identified as statewide failing. Too often, she said, magistrates release DWI suspects on bond without requiring them to wear a continuous alcohol monitoring device. (Judge Johnson granted the district attorney’s request to order Hendi to wear one, if he made bond. That had not happened before.)
“You’re nominated (as a magistrate) by the clerk of court and appointed by the chief resident Superior Court judge but you’re supervised by chief District Court judge,” Pitt said. “As a magistrate you have 40 hours of basic training, covering search and seizure, domestic violence, civil stuff, DWI. There was no mandatory requirement for them to ever take even one more day of training and some didn’t. We have been battling this battle for two or three years.”
MADD, the DWI task force and the state’s prosecutors chalked up a victory when the Legislature enacted the law strengthening magistrate training.
“Our Western North Carolina legislators — they saw it through and it’s one of those bills that went through unopposed because they all knew it had to happen,” Pitt said. Hendi, she added, “is a shining example of why we had to get that bill passed.”
Pitt, who monitors DWI cases in 17 Western North Carolina counties for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, traveled from Maggie Valley to Hendersonville on Oct. 28 to watch Hendi’s court appearance.
After some confusion about whether Hendi would plead guilty to some of his pending charges, the defendant mysteriously vanished. His attorney told the judge he thought his client had stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. After a lunch break, Hendi reappeared. Johnson sent him to jail, where he remains today. Based on his past conduct, lack of respect for the law, dozens of pending misdemeanor and felony charges and potential prison time he faces, Hendi is “a substantial flight risk,” Johnson said.
While she supports sobriety courts that guide DWI defendants into rehab instead of prison, Pitt is not convinced that route would work for Hendi.
“If he was just having the DWI problem and that was all, and if it was always alcohol and always the same drug or something, treatment could be in the future for him,” she said. “But looking at all his other crimes, I’m not sure that would be an option for him. He probably needs to spend a little time alone. Maybe this will get his attention … I’m just glad he hasn’t killed anybody yet.”