By Michele Chadwick
MODESTO, CA – Judge Dawna Reeves set Nicolas Villela’s bail at $480,000 Wednesday here in Stanislaus County Superior Court after determining Villela falsified documents for the court about a COVID test.
Villela is accused of one count of felony Gross Vehicular Manslaughter and four counts of great bodily injury following a drunk driving accident in December 2020.
Villela, 19 at the time, allegedly hit another vehicle, killing one passenger and injuring the driver as well as five passengers.
However, Villela claimed to tested positive for COVID, which delayed his preliminary hearings.
But, according to Judge Reeves, “it looked like the information he provided the court was manufactured or at the very least not complete,” adding the court “gave him the opportunity to prove he had been truthful by bringing in a brand new COVID test and that COVID test showed negative.”
Judge Reeves also would have accepted “whatever additional documentation to support that document that I saw that looked like it was manufactured, showing only a first name and no identifying characteristics from a health agency. He could have brought whatever was behind that to show that that was actually truthful and he wasn’t able to do that.”
The judge maintained that “in this court’s view the information he provided the court was not truthful.”
While Judge Reeves “wouldn’t expect [Villela] to also be attending AA” while sick with Covid, “that got him out of all that proof just because he was in my view perpetrating a fraud on the court with respect to whether or not the prelim could go forward.”
Following the arguments, Judge Reeves said “that causes me some concern that I can trust that he was ever going to AA on a regular basis. Maybe he was or maybe he wasn’t, but this causes me some concern about whether or not I can trust his word.”
Judge Reeves set the bail at $480,000 because, “Lives were lost. Lives were changed. I don’t know if I can trust Mr. Villela on the streets.”
Villela did not submit a financial declaration but Judge Reeves would not consider it because “that does not come into play if I’m setting bail based on the risk. The risk of releasing Mr. Villela under these circumstances is high.”