‘Serial subway scammer’ who bragged he’d be released thanks to bail reform gets arrested for 140th time


New York City, New York – Charles Barry is at it again, with arrest number 140.

Just this past Tuesday, the appropriately dubbed “serial subway scammer” managed to tack on yet another arrest onto a rap sheet that rivals “Les Misérables” in its page count. This time around, police say that he ripped off a tourist for $32.

The 56-year-old was allegedly up to his tired antics again at the Bryant Park subway station, on Sixth Ave. at W. 42nd St on Tuesday.

This latest arrest came after he allegedly came up to a Belgian tourist at the station offering to sell her a $32 MetroCard.

When Barry had approached the woman, she was apparently having some difficulty with a MetroCard vending machine. So, the woman obliged and bought said card off of Barry.

Once the exchange had wrapped, the woman then realized that the MetroCard had no money on it – and Barry had already run off.

The tourist went up to one of the transit workers at the station to explain what had transpired, and station workers produced a picture of Barry to see if that was the person the woman encountered.

From there, the woman filed a report with police, who were then able to track Barry down at a local shelter on East 3rd St. and arrested him.

Clearly police are getting too familiar with his face, as he’d already been arrested seven times since just the onset of 2020.

So, one might be wondering “how can someone be arrested so many times and not actually be in jail?”

If you guessed bail reform in New York City, then you’d be spot on.


Despite having done six terms in prison previously, being arrested over 140 times collectively, and seven arrests this year – judges are not allowed to keep Barry jailed for his alleged offenses thus far.

Mainly because they’re all considered to be non-violent criminal charges, and thus any accused of said type of charges have to be released on their own recognizance.

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Furthermore, Barry is not only well aware of these new bail reform laws, he’s quite the outspoken fan of them. When speaking with a Daily News reporter just last week, Barry was quoted as saying:

“Bail reform, it’s lit! It’s the Democrats! The Democrats know me and the Republicans fear me. You can’t touch me! I can’t be stopped!”


All this new found bail reform has accomplished is making alleged criminals bolder in their execution of non-violent crimes, and apparently being braggadocio when referring to them.

Barry even admitted that his infamous scams net him anywhere from $200 to $300 per day.

Police sources say this time around, Barry is expected to be charged with fraudulent accosting. It’s likely no worries to Barry though, he’ll be out in no time – scamming subway riders and tourists once again.

Go Deeper

In the meantime, a Brooklyn judge may have found a temporary solution to the state’s ridiculous bail reform law. While it may not be applicable in every arrest made, he has already deployed it to send a serial burglar to jail.

In a ruling issued last week, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Hecht found a 40-year-old statute, unknown to many. That rule allows judges to keep some repeat felony offenders in jail for up to 3 months.

Hecht used it to order prolific burglar Casey Knight locked up at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center in East Elmhurst.

Knight, 51, with seven prior convictions, had another burglary charge pending when he was released in December. 

His release was all due to the bail reforms. He was subsequently arrested for allegedly pulling off three more heists in January. 

Burglary in the second degree is one of the felonies on the bail reform list that are no longer eligible for bail.

Hecht in his ruling argued that the 1981 law was not changed when state lawmakers made their reforms, and should therefore still apply in this case.

“The exclusion of burglary in the second degree simply isn’t there,” Hecht said of the older law.

“Accordingly, based on all these factors, the court concluded that the least restrictive condition to reasonably assure his return was to remand for a period of ninety days.”

A spokesman for the Legal Aid Society, which represents Knight, said the office is still reviewing Hecht’s ruling “to determine next steps.”

Hecht’s application may not be a long-term solution and it has certainly divided opinion among legal experts.

Bennett Gershman, a former Manhattan prosecutor and current professor at Pace University School of Law said the Brooklyn judge did the “right thing.”

“The judge rescued a very bad situation using this statute,” said Gershman, who added that state legislators overreached on the reform measure, exposing the system to “embarrassing” lapses.

Not only that, but every time a criminal is released without bail, and commits the same or worse crimes while waiting to go to trial, it only creates more victims.

It only creates more loss.

It only shows that lawmakers who support such legislation really do not care about their constituency and what impact crime has on their communities.  

Jocelyn Simonson, a former public defender who teaches at Brooklyn Law School, said lawmakers clearly hadn’t intended to leave the old law on the books — and suggested the judge was using the case to air his own grievances with the new bail reforms.

“This is not a result that should be happening,” Simonson said. “He’s going out of his way to make a ruling that he didn’t have to make.”

Lawyer: Objection your Honor, speculation.

Judge: Sustained.

Um, Jocelyn…I hate to break this to you, but you cannot speak to what every New York lawmaker since 1981 “clearly intended.” 

Jocelyn: I object. 

Judge: On what grounds?

Jocelyn: On the grounds that the previous objection is devastating to my case.  

Judge: Overruled. 

Knight was busted in November 2018 for allegedly breaking into a Bedford-Stuyvesant building by busting through a windowpane on the front door and stealing more than $3,000 worth of jewelry.

A judge at the time set bail on Knight but he didn’t pay it, according to court documents.

He was behind bars for more than a year, until Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Barry Warhit released him without bail on Dec. 3 in anticipation of the coming bail reforms, which technically went into effect January 1st.

Where was Jocelyn then? Was she outraged that a judge was ruling based off laws that were not yet laws? Or is her disdain for a judge based solely off a judge using laws that are actual laws, simply because she disagrees with their interpretation of that law. 

Once free, police say Knight then looted three more Bed-Stuy homes in the span of two weeks. The list of items he absconded with included music equipment, electronics, Play Station games and two pairs of shoes.

He was arrested February 1st and brought before Hecht five days later.

Hecht is just the latest New York judge to try to find a way around the bail reform measures.

Last month, Nassau County District Judge David McAndrews ordered accused serial bank robber Romell Nellis held on $10,000 cash bond, even though the charge was not bail-eligible under the new law.

Another Nassau judge was later forced to release Nellis without bail.

And wouldn’t you know it. Nellis hacked off his court-ordered monitoring ankle bracelet and hit up two more banks, police said.

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