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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dept. of Insurance Files Complaint Against C&M Bonding

The Missouri Department of Insurance (DIFP) has filed a complaint against Cody W. Ice and his company C&M Bonding, Inc. The link to the complaint is here. The Department alleges that C&M and its president received compensation by means of fraud, misrepresentation, or deception. According to the complaint, C&M posted a bond in Camden County for $250,000 and another cash bond for $5,000. The defendant was not able to secure his release because he had a detainer from the State of Illinois. Twelve days later C&M revoked both bonds and did not refund the defendant’s bond fees. The Department also seeks discipline from the Administrative Hearing Commission because it alleges C&M failed to satisfy bond forfeitures in a timely manner. The DIFP complains that C&M had two unsatisfied judgments dated August 2005 and did not satisfy them until October 2006. The hearing is set for April 18, 2007.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Link to Bail Bond Bill

I have had a lot of feedback concerning the file size of the pre-filed bail bond/insurance regulation bill (SB153) referenced in my post on December 13th. It is a large PDF file; the bail bond section begins on page 25. Here is a shortcut link to just the bail section which is 7 pages long.

SB153 Bail Section Only-7 pages

Friday, December 15, 2006

AHC Ruling: Felon Cannot be Disciplined

The Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) has issued a ruling stating that the Department of Insurance (DIFP) has failed to make its case in the discipline of convicted felon and former bondsman, Gerald Cummings. Although Cummings failed to appear to defend himself, the AHC ruled in his favor. According to the ruling, Cummings was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a weapon. On April 18, 2005, the court suspended the imposition of sentence and placed Cummings on probation for five years. The court records submitted by the DIFP do not indicate whether the court’s findings of guilt were after trial or after a plea of guilty or nolo contendere. The DIFP offered the "Lee Clause" to support its position that Cummings was subject to discipline. The Lee Clause (374.755[2]) states:

[f]inal adjudication or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere within the past fifteen years in a criminal prosecution under any state or federal law for a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude whether or not a sentence is imposed, prior to issuance of license date[.]

The AHC ruled that final adjudication did not include a suspended imposition of sentence and certified court documents submitted by the DIFP did not state whether Cummings entered “a plea of guilty or nolo contendere” but just said he was “found guilty.” The Commission ruled that the court documents submitted failed to meet the wording of the Lee Clause. Further, the AHC said that had the DIFP submitted documentation that Cummings pleaded guilty that they would have to know when the plea occurred. The AHC spent considerable time debating the “ comma-prior to issuance of license date” indicating that the comma modifies all that goes before it and would be interpreted that discipline could be issued for those with felony convictions within 15 years before initial licensing but would not apply to felonies committed after the licensing date. The AHC did not issue a ruling on the licensing date section of the Lee Clause and said they would save that for another day.

The AHC additionally ruled that the DIFP did not have cause to discipline Cummings for refusing to respond to Department letters and refusing to furnish information to the Department. The law cited by the DIFP was in regard to the business of insurance and the AHC ruled that bail bond business has not been established as an “insurance business.”

Finally, the AHC ruled that Cummings criminal offenses were committed prior to the 2005 bail bond law and applied the 2000 version of the statute. In its ruling, the Commission stated that Cummings’ criminal offenses were not committed in the performance of his duties as a bondsman, so he was not considered to have committed misconduct. The AHC, nor the DIFP, addressed the prior statute section regarding the Missouri Supreme Court rule pertaining to the conviction of felons.

The DIFP has filed a petition for judicial review of this case in Cole County. The case number is 06AC-CC01084.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bail Bond Bill Filed in Senate

A bail bond and insurance regulation bill has been pre-filed by Senator Engler in the Senate (SB153). This year’s bill includes language from the licensing bill submitted by the Department of Insurance last year, as well as the bail bond bill promoted by the Missouri Professional Bail Bonding Association. A summary of the provisions of the bail bond section of the bill are as follows, my comments in blue:

1) Increases the general agent's assigned CD from $10,000 to $20,000 and allows by regulation, the Department to increase the CD to $100,000.
2) “Each general bail bond agent shall file with the director and the state courts administrator, no later than December first of each year, a sworn affidavit in a form and manner prescribed by the state courts administrator attesting that the general agent has net assets with a value in excess of any personal exemptions from execution, at least equal to the aggregate amount of bonds that are subject to execution in this state. The state courts administrator may establish and assess a filing fee. This filing shall be satisfactory proof of compliance with the financial qualification under supreme court rule and no municipal and circuit court in this state may place additional financial requirements upon a general bail bond agent duly qualified with the state courts administrator.”
This provision by-passes filing with the local courts and establishes a system to report to the Office of State Courts Administrator. The language states that each general agent (but not insurance companies) file an affidavit saying that his/her total net assets exceed the aggregate (total) amount of bonds written. This provision creates a “dollar for dollar” system and assumes that 100% of your bonds will result in judgment. Insurance companies are exempt from this provision and only have to prove “solvency” to the local court. Additionally, a fee is associated with this process and that fee has not been disclosed in the bill.
3) "For any new appointment of a bail bond agent, the bail bond agent shall file an affidavit with the department and the appointing general bail bond agent stating that there are no outstanding premiums owed. If outstanding premiums are owed and the bail bond agent does not satisfy such premium obligations, the former general bail bond agent shall file notice, along with supporting documents with the department, and provide such notice to the bail bond agent and the newly appointing general bail bond agent, stating under oath the fact that the bail bond agent has failed to satisfy their obligations. Upon receipt of such notification and supporting documents, the appointing general bail bond agent shall immediately cancel the newly appointed bail bond authority. Such authority shall remain cancelled until all premiums are paid."
This provision was borrowed from the Florida statutes, with two important differences. First, the Florida statute includes a due-process provision which stays the cancellation of authority until the Department investigates the allegations of the former general agent. Without this provision, a former general agent can deprive an agent of the right to earn a living without due process of law. Secondly, Florida does not allow credit bonds, so any outstanding premiums would have been collected but unreported to the company. However, since Missouri allows agents to extend credit to clients, this provision could be applied to uncollected or uncollectible premiums owed both the agent and the company.
4) Upon notice by the court, the Department must notify general agents of a bail bond forfeiture within 48 hours.
I assume the drafters of this bill meant to say upon notice of an unsatisfied judgment, the Department must notify general agents. Courts do not routinely notice the Department of a “notice of forfeiture” and there is no provision requiring the courts to notice the department for every forfeiture. Since most forfeitures are set aside and do not result in judgment, surely the Department is not tasked with notifying companies of every forfeiture in the state.
5) The Department is required to issue a photographic license.
The bill does not specify how the picture will be obtained or what the cost might be.
6) An agent must notify the department of the name, address, and phone number for each general agent/insurance company for whom the agent writes. This information must be continually updated.
7) Requires the Missouri Highway Patrol to conduct a finger-printing and criminal background check on applications for licensure.
8) Allows the 15 year felony clause, but adds that a license MAY be refused, revoked, etc. if an applicant has been convicted of: any dangerous felony defined by section 556.061, RSMo, any felony crime of assault, any felony crime that results in the serious physical injury or death of another person, any felony crime against the administration of justice, or any felony of which deceit or fraud is an element of the offense.
9) Requires the agent to disclose the legal name his/her general agent to the defendant and on every bond written.
10) Requires every licensee to report any felony arrest to the department within 10 days.
Does not instruct the Department on what they are to do with this information.

If you would like to contact your senator about this bill, here is a link to
find your senator and contact information. The best ways to communicate with your elected officials are by fax, letter, or phone call. Senators get many emails, and constituent emails sometimes go unread.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Fugitive Commits Suicide With Bondsman's Gun

Defendant Clifford Skiles committed suicide in Toledo, OH by using his bondsman’s gun. His bondsman, Thomas Holmes, attempted to take him into custody when he took Holmes gun. Holmes told police he carried the unloaded gun in the trunk of his vehicle, and loaded it before he went to Skiles' mother's residence. Once inside the apartment, Mr. Holmes had the gun in a holster on his person in plain view. Skiles apparently did not want to go to jail, the two men struggled, and Holmes pulled out the gun. The two men then fought over the weapon, police said. Skiles gained possession of the gun, fled the apartment, and jumped into the back seat of a waiting vehicle, occupied by a woman and her teenage daughter. The two females got out of the vehicle when they saw the gun and Skiles shot himself, police said. Skiles staggered back to the apartment building, where police found him wounded on the top of a set of outside stairs. He died about 30 minutes later at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. Police said Mr. Holmes was inside the apartment and on the phone with 911 when the shooting occurred.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Unsatisfied Judgment List

The bail bond unsatisfied judgment list is compiled by the DIFP and the Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator. The following companies/general agents appear on the current list last updated on 11/3/2006. The list is distributed to local courts via electronic means.

1) A Aarons Bonding Company, administratively dissolved corporation, president- Lewis David Duncan of Excelsior Springs, MO-4 judgments
2) A Way Out Investments, Inc., president-David Bush of Blue Springs, MO, license inactive-32 unsatisfied judgments
3) L&C Investment Group, president-Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO- judgment appealed, supersedeas bond posted
4) David McKinney, inactive general agent of Independence, MO-43 unsatisfied judgments
5) Sherry Goodin, inactive general agent of Marshall, MO-8 unsatisfied judgments

Note: The judgment list does not provide the address of the company or corporate officers. I added the address, corporate presidents, and corporate status using the Missouri Secretary of State business database as well as the DIFP licensing information.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Bail Agent Impersonators Arrested

A mother and daughter who scammed citizens by impersonating bail bond agents have been arrested in the New Orleans area. The mother/daughter scam artists called intended victims (all over the age of 70) and told them that a loved one was in jail. (Some victims learned that their loved ones had never been arrested.) The team asked for a sum of money and went over to the victims’ houses and collected. One of the victims became suspicious and called police. The pair was arrested as they came to the home to collect the fake bail premium. Both the mother and daughter have been arrested for theft and conspiracy to commit theft. The original story ran here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Feds Say Jackson Plotted Another Murder

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline today reads: “Man plotted while in jail, says federal prosecutor.” The article states that while in federal custody, Virgil Lee Jackson plotted another murder attempt, this time against a government witness. The Post-Dispatch reports that Assistant Federal Prosecutor Hoag claimed Jackson told an inmate in July that he would pay $50,000 to "take out" one of the government's witnesses. Jackson appeared in federal court yesterday on a motion to set bond. After hearing from the attorneys, the judge ruled against bond for Jackson. According to the STL-PD article, "The judge allowed that Jackson's experience (as a bondsman) would impress him with the importance of meeting bond conditions, but also might help him to disappear.” Jackson has been in federal custody since October 2005, after being arrested for conspiring to murder competitor Jerry Cox. Jackson is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The article reports that Jackson has admitted his role in the murder conspiracy against Cox to at least three other jail inmates. He is set for trial in January 2007.

Previous Coverage of Dotson/Jackson Case:
Lee Jackson held on federal charges 4/1/2006
Dotson Arrested/New Charges for Jackson 6/2/2006
Dotson/Jackson trial postponed 6/8/2006
Arraignment 6/13/2006
Trial postponed again 10/28/2006
Dotson Freed on Bond 11/15/2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

MO Supreme Court Denies L&C Case

The Missouri Supreme Court has denied the motion to hear the case appealed by L&C Investments and Doug Cheatham. The appellant ruling stands which ruled that L&C was responsible for a bond, after sentencing, when a stay of execution was granted. The defendant, Mark Wilson, failed to surrender himself for commitment and the bond was ordered forfeited. The appeal court said that L&C should have kept itself informed of Wilson's case, and if it did not want to be obligated for Wilson's release upon the stay of execution of his sentence, L&C could have surrendered Wilson to the custody of law enforcement. L&C was not present when the sentence was ordered and the stay granted. This ruling becomes case law for Missouri bonding companies. If a stay of execution is granted, courts can now hold bonding companies on the bond until the defendant is committed to DOC. Last week L&C filed a motion with the local court asking for a judicial review to modify or set aside the judgment.

Previous Coverage:
L&C Investments Appeals to Supreme Court
Appellant Court Rules Against L&C

Friday, November 17, 2006

Continuing Education Providers

2007 is almost here and it’s time to start thinking about continuing education. Most licensed bail bond agents will have to renew their licenses in the up-coming year. There are several new continuing education providers serving our industry. Here is a link to the official list and below are direct email addresses for several commercial providers.

Dave Strassner-Instructional Bail Bond Courses of Mid-Missouri
Mike Thomas –Michael Thomas Training Institute
Kent Hunter-Missouri Western Bail Bond Academy
Bruce Temen-Ozark Professional Training Center
Tom Moser-Tactical Concepts, Inc.

Providers services vary. Some providers will come to your site with minimum enrollment. Other providers require access to specialized facilities and ranges. I have spoken to all the providers and they are very willing to serve your training needs. See my links for direct links to education provider's websites.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dotson Freed on Bond

Glen Dotson, a Missouri licensed bail bond agent, has been released from federal custody on a $50,000 bond. The bond was written by an agent working under the authority of Jack Allison. Dotson had been in federal custody since late May on federal charges for participating in the plot to murder competitor Jerry Cox. Dotson was charged for allegedly obtaining a weapon and delivering it to bail bondsman Virgil Lee Jackson. Dotson waived his rights to speedy trial just a week before the bond was executed in federal court. Dotson and Jackson are scheduled for trial on January 16, 2007. Coverage of the developments of the Dotson/Jackson case can be found in the archives in the right pane.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Update-Felon Bondsman Arrested

11/9/2006-Donald E. Christian, a Missouri licensed bail bond agent, was arrested yesterday on Lincoln County charges for a class D felony involving a controlled substance. According to the Lincoln County prosecutor’s office, Christian attempted to purchase a controlled substance from an undercover agent. Christian is another convicted felon with a bail bond license and has been licensed under Jack Allison since 2005. He was convicted of felony cocaine charges in Montgomery County in 1998 and sentenced to three years in the MO Department of Corrections. Execution of his sentence was suspended, and he ordered to serve five years probation and 60 days shock time.

Christian’s bond was set at $10,000 cash only yesterday. Today the bond was reduced to $10,000 surety and Christian posted bond with another agent working for Jack Allison.

Christian’s previous felony conviction was profiled last year in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, after the ST-PD investigated felons in the Missouri bail bond industry.

It is unknown how Christian obtained a bail bond license and how he kept it. According to the DIFP website, Christian was licensed after the 15-year clause (Lee Clause) for felony convictions went into effect on January 1, 2005. The DIFP records show that Christian was licensed on 3/17/2005 and his 1998 felony conviction was well within the 15-year window. Insurance Director Dale Finke ordered a review of all bail bond licenses after Virgil Lee Jackson was arrested in October 2005. It seems Christian's license should have been flagged in the review. There is no pending disciplinary action against Christian's license at this time.

Update: 11/13/2006 The Missouri Department of Insurance has filed a complaint with the Administrative Hearing Commission against Christian. The complaint seeks permission to discipline Christian’s license because he is a convicted felon.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Unsatisfied Judgment List 10/20/2006

The bail bond unsatisfied judgment list is compiled by the DIFP and the Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator. The following companies/general agents appear on the current list last updated on 10/20/2006. The list is distributed to local courts via electronic means.

1) A Aarons Bonding Company, administratively dissolved corporation, president- Lewis David Duncan of Excelsior Springs, MO
2) A Way Out Investments, Inc., president-David Bush of Blue Springs, MO, license inactive
3) L&C Investment Group, president-Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO***
4) David McKinney, inactive general agent of Independence, MO

***A supersedeas bond was posted by L&C on 8/3/2006 in Buchanan County staying execution of judgment pending appeal on one of its judgments.

I have had several readers request a copy of the judgment listing. I have uploaded a copy here for your review.

Note: The judgment list does not provide the address of the company or corporate officers. I added the address, corporate presidents, and corporate status using the Missouri Secretary of State business database as well as the DIFP licensing information.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Utah Supreme Courts Rules in Bounty Hunter Case

The Utah Supreme Court has issued a ruling in the out-of-state bounty hunter case previously covered here. The court ruled reviewed whether licensed out-of state bounty hunters were allowed to capture fugitives in Utah and ruled that Langley, a Colorado licensed bounty hunter, could apprehend fugitives in Utah. The high court unanimously ruled that Lee, the criminal defendant, had expressly consented to out of state capture in the bail contract he signed. The court said in its ruling, “Not only does bail advance the societal interest in not depriving accused parties of their liberty while they still enjoy the presumption of innocence, but it also contributes to the practical need to spare our citizens the expense of confining all defendants while they await trial.” The court also said, “Utah has a strong interest in seeing that fugitives from its criminal justice system are apprehended, an interest that is at risk of being compromised if our state erects unnecessary barriers to the enforcement of bail contracts. The converse is also true. There is little to recommend the prospect of making Utah a safe haven for out-of-state fugitives by making it increasingly difficult for bail recovery agents from other states to track defendants into Utah.” In its conclusion the Utah Supreme Court upheld the appellant decision that Langley may have violated Utah law in the apprehension of Lee (by not having a Utah license-a misdemeanor offense) is irrelevant when evaluating the separate relationship that arose from the bail contracts. The enforcement of the bail contracts by a bail recovery agent, unlicensed but qualified for licensure in Utah, did not violate the public policy of Utah.

Appellant Court Rules on Indigency of Defendants

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District ruled on October 31st that the Audrain County Associate Circuit Court did not err when it denied Mark Lewis’s application for the public defender’s services. The court ruled that he did not meet the state’s indigency requirements. This case may be of interest to bondsmen as part of the denial of services was because Lewis made a $50,000 bond. The Missouri Code of State Regulations state that: “If the defendant has been released on bail on any case in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000) or more, a presumption is created that the defendant is not indigent and the ability of the defendant to meet the bail must be given consideration;” The record indicates that Lewis said that “money was never exchanged between him and the bondsman.” (Lewis’s bond was posted by All State Investment Corporation which is no longer licensed with the DIFP or registered with the Secretary of State.) Lewis, who represented himself at trial, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for 1st degree child molestation. Lewis appealed the conviction based on the fact he was given no public defender and was unable to afford private counsel. The appellant court upheld the court’s decision to deny the public defender, but transferred the case to the MO Supreme Court due to its great importance and interest.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Columbia Tribune Looks at Felon Provision in Bail Law

The Columbia Daily Tribune featured an article today analyzing Representative Bob Behnen’s (R) role in the passage of the Lee Clause in 2004. The reporter began investigating the 2004 legislation after Representative Wes Shoemyer (D) aired a campaign commercial criticizing the legislation. Behnen and Shoemyer are both running for the Missouri Senate seat vacated by John Cauthorn (R). In particular, the campaign ad criticized the 15 year provision allowing felons to have a bail bond/general bail bond license. The language in the 2004 legislation (SB1122) was written and promoted by the Missouri Professional Bail Bond Association and sponsored by Behnen. At the time, Lee Jackson was a director of the association and heavily involved in the passage of the bill. Immediately after the law went into effect, Jackson applied for a general bail bond license. The Department of Insurance (DIFP) did not grant the license, however. They cited different reasons for the denial of the license, including Jackson’s failure to disclose his recent misdemeanor convictions, he submitted documents to courts for the purpose of acting as a surety under the name of a surety company that did not hold a certificate of authority to do business in the state, (he was writing bail under Missouri National Surety, Inc. and American Guarantee Surety, Inc., neither of which had corporate licenses) he possessed a firearm as a convicted felon, and he conspired to murder competitor Jerry Cox. Of course the last two reasons are only accusations at this time as Jackson’s conspiracy case has yet to go to trial.

During the time frame that the general bail bond license was denied, Jackson was under investigation by the ATF. The ATF allegedly has taped phone calls of Jackson orchestrating the murder plot. The US attorney alleges that Jackson wanted to murder Cox because Jackson believed that Cox had told the authorities that Jackson’s corporations were unlicensed and fraudulent.

After Jackson’s arrest, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a series of articles outlining Jackson, Jack Allison, and bail association’s role in passage of SB1122. In an interview with the P-D, Behnen admitted that the 15 year provision was crafted to help an individual but denied that it was Lee Jackson he was helping. Since 2004, Behnen has annually sponsored legislation for the bail association. He has also accepted $2,950 in contributions from the association and its leaders, including Jackson. Recently, Shoemyer has also accepted contributions.

Behnen is quoted in the CDT article saying, ""How long are you going to hold somebody responsible? If it’s 15 years and they have kept their nose clean, … what does that do? All that does is make a whole bunch of people who aren’t able to be employed. And then what do we have? We’re forcing them to go back to crime." I totally disagree with Behnen's assessment that giving felons a bail bond license will deter them from returning to a life of crime. Lee Jackson demonstrates my position perfectly. Until his arrest, Jackson (who had convicted of numerous felonies) had a job writing bail bonds, but that did not deter him from allegedly plotting the most heinous crime of all, the murder another human being.

Note: Also read the Joplin City Court's position on another felon writing bail in our state.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Bondsman Begins Federal Sentence After Judicial Probe

An interesting article appeared this week in the New Orleans Times-Picayune about the rise and fall of New Orleans’ most influential bondsman. Louis Marcotte, owner of Bail Bonds Unlimited, granted an interview before beginning his sentence in a federal penitentiary after pleading guilty to RICO charges. Also serving time are several judges, sheriff’s deputies, and bondsmen of Bail Bonds Unlimited. The charges came after Marcotte agreed to cooperate in an FBI operation called Wrinkled Robe. Defendants acknowledged heaping rewards on jailers and sheriff's deputies for unfettered access to the courthouse and on now-jailed former Judges Ronald Bodenheimer and Alan Green in exchange for manipulating his clients' bonds to boost Bail Bonds Unlimited's profits, limit liability and hinder competition. Bail Bonds Unlimited also gave $35,750 in campaign donations to at least 56 elected officials in 5 1/2 years. Marcotte will serve far less time than the judges who accepted his bribes. Green is serving 51 months at a low-security prison in Beaumont, Texas; Bodenheimer is serving 46 months at a federal prison camp in Montgomery, Ala. Green became the sole defendant to go to trial in the sprawling case, while nine others pleaded guilty. Lori Marcotte, Louis Marcotte’s sister, served as the government's star witness implicating Green, while her brother didn't utter a word to jurors. Marcotte said, "I think the government was very hard on me, as right they should have been. I've been doing this drill for six years and I've got 16 months to do in jail, six months in a halfway house and three years probation. It's over a decade of my life, plus I lost everything I worked for all my life. . . . I worked the hardest, I lost the most."

Jackson Trial Postponed Again

The federal trial against bail bond agent Virgil Lee Jackson has been postponed for the second time. The trial was scheduled to begin Monday, October 30th. In a joint motion filed last week, all parties asked for a continuance to “consider settlement options.” A new date has not been set. Co-defendant Glen Dotson has been severed from this case and his case will be heard separately. Jackson has been in federal custody since October 2005, after being charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and using interstate commerce with the intent to murder for pecuniary gain. Dotson, also a licensed bondsman, has been in custody since May 2006 after allegedly delivering the firearm to Jackson. The federal indictment alleges that competitor Jerry Cox was the intended victim of the plot. Both Dotson and Jackson have been denied bond while awaiting trial.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

AHC Issues Ruling on Bondsman's License

Ordered DIFP Has Cause to Discipline for Felony Conviction

The Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) ruled on September 22nd, that the Department of Insurance (DIFP) has cause to discipline James Cox’s bail bond license because he was convicted of a felony. The DIFP was represented by Doug Ommen, general counsel and deputy director of the department. Cox was represented by Steve Carroll, legal counsel and lobbyist for the bail bond association. According to the US Attorney’s press release, Cox (who was formerly a Florissant, MO police officer) was convicted on federal charges in December 2004, after conspiring with another to falsely plant drug evidence and filing a false report regarding illegal use of a credit card. The case was covered by the KC Star Crime Scene blog. Cox was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison and two years probation. The DIFP filed a complaint to discipline Cox’s license when DIFP Director Dale Finke ordered a crackdown on bail bond agents who had felony convictions. The department’s announcement came just a week after Virgil Lee Jackson was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm and later charged with conspiracy to commit murder for pecuniary gain. Jackson was arrested after federal authorities allegedly thwarted Jackson’s plot to murder Cox’s father, Gerald Cox. According to the AHC ruling, Cox argued mitigating circumstances to place his license under probation instead of revocation. The AHC responded that it did not have the authority to decide punishment and declined to make a non-binding recommendation. The DIFP will conduct a hearing to determine how Cox's license will be disciplined.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bail PAC Gives and Receives

Last month the bail association formed a Political Action Committee. The PAC filed its first quarterly report with the Missouri Ethics Commission. According to the committee’s proposed by-laws, the PAC operates independently of the association, although the PAC members must be association members and also give at least $500 to the PAC in order to have voting rights. The PAC chair is association president Jack Allison of Allison Bonding, Mexico, MO. The vice-chair is Ray Vunovich, agent of Allison Bonding. George Dodge, owner of Dodge Bonding of Columbia, MO, serves as second vice-chair. Association lobbyist Steve Carroll serves as the PAC committee treasurer. The following companies/individuals made contributions to the PAC.

1) All Out Investment Corp., (a licensed corporation owned by Charles Bonnott and Laura Feller of Camdenton) gave $1,500
2) Linda Poe and Linda Poe Bail Bonds of St. Joseph gave $1,000
3) Gerald Cox of Cox Bail Bonds, St. Charles, $1,000
4) A Advanced Bail Bonds, Inc. (a licensed corporation owned by Karen Trimble and Brenda Marshall of Ozark, MO) $500
5) Dodge Companies, George Dodge of Columbia $1,000
6) Queen City Bail Bonds, owned by Charles and Richard Arnall and Rex Shaffer of Springfield, $1,000
7) AAA Way Bail Bonds, owned by Linda Parker of Joplin, agent for Jack Allison of Mexico, $500
8) American Guarantee Surety, Inc., (an unlicensed corporation owned by Jack and Debbie Allison and Jeannie Millard of Mexico) $1,000
9) A-Aero Bail Bonds, LLC (an unlicensed LLC organized by Jack Allison and his agent Vladimir “Ray” Vunovich) $1,000
10) Callahan (sic) Bail Bonds, Inc., (licensed corporation owned by Ray and Virgie Callanan of Farmington) $1,000

Based on the committee’s proposed by-laws, all contributors gave enough money to earn voting-level membership on the committee. A voting level membership allows committee members to vote on who receives the contributions. Below are the disclosed contributions of the committee so far.

1) Tom Dempsey’s (R-St. Charles) campaign received $300. Dempsey is the Majority Floor Leader in the Missouri House
2) Tim Meadows (D-Imperial) received $200
3) Jeff Roorda (D-Imperial) received $200
4) Mo. House Democratic Campaign Committee received $250
5) House Republican Campaign Committee received $250
6) Rep. Bob Behnen (R-Kirksville) received $300. He is running for the 18th District Senate seat.
7) Rep. Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence) also received $300 and is also running for the 18th District Senate seat.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bonding Company Appeals to MO Supreme Court

L&C Investments and Doug Cheatham have appealed a recent case decided by the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals. It was previously covered here. L&C has asked the Missouri Supreme Court to accept the case on appeal. The appellant court ruled that L&C was responsible for a bond after sentencing when a stay of execution on the sentence was granted. The defendant failed to surrender himself for commitment and the bond was ordered forfeited. The appeal court said that L&C should have kept itself informed of Wilson's case, and if it did not want to be obligated for Wilson's release upon the stay of execution of his sentence, L&C could have surrendered Wilson to the custody of law enforcement. L&C was not present when the sentence was ordered and the stay granted. L&C argues that the trial judge exceeded his authority in granting a stay under 546.610 RSMO, in that the statute states that a defendant sentenced to DOC shall “without delay” be delivered to DOC. L&C further argues that under rule 33.06, the court should have held a hearing, with all parties present, in order to modify the conditions of release. L&C also states that commitment to DOC should have taken place immediately where no appeal was filed and that the trial judge had no authority to grant a delay in executing the sentence.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bonding Company Files Federal Lawsuit Against Judges

Tom Peak, owner of Peak Bail Bonds of Jefferson City, and three of his agents have filed a civil suit in US District Court against two Missouri presiding circuit judges, the Honorable Mark Richardson of the 36th Judicial Circuit and the Honorable Fred Copeland of the 34th Judicial Circuit. Also named in the suit are state troopers Buddy Cooper and Jeff Heath of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Sheriff Mark Dobbs of Butler County, New Madrid County Prosecuting Attorney Lewis Recker, and Phillip Childress and Craig Meador of Childress Bail Bonds of Poplar Bluff, MO.

Plaintiffs Peak, Glenn Beazley of Jefferson City, Bobby Martin of Marston, and John Montgomery of Poplar Bluff, allege in a seven count complaint; two counts of conspiracy, denial of due process, tortiuous interference, slander, libel, and injurious falsehood.

The complaint alleges that Peak and its agents were unfairly denied the right to conduct bail bond business in the courts’ jurisdictions based upon a complaint received by competitor Childress. The complaint alleges that Judge Richardson issued a letter to Martin accusing him of:
(1) inappropriately using inmates to recruit business,
(2) allowing Montgomery to issue bonds under Martin’s authority, and
(3) soliciting and receiving sexual favors in exchange for fees.

The complaint alleges that the letter also revoked the authority of Martin to issue bonds in the circuit effective immediately. Montgomery also alleges that he was unable to write bonds in the circuit and Montgomery and Martin not given a hearing or appeal rights. The suit alleges that Richardson, Copeland, Dobbs, Recker, Cooper and Heath used the power and prestige of their positions to investigate and discredit plaintiffs without authority. The complaint also alleges that the injurious statements regarding Martin and Montgomery were false and harmful, and defendants intended the harm or should have recognized that harm was likely as a result of the false statements.

The plaintiffs are represented by Samuel Trapp of Hanrahan Trapp, PC of Jefferson City. Since the complaint was just filed on October 11th, the defendants attorneys have not entered at this time.

The entire complaint is posted here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

DIFP: Bulletins on Corporate Licensing, Fictitious Names

The Missouri Department of Insurance (DIFP) recently posted two bulletins regarding the bail bond industry on their website.

The first has to do with the use of fictitious names or names used to market the bail bond company that do not clearly indicate the name of the person licensed to conduct bail bond business. Under the advisory, the DIFP says that they and the courts have had problems collecting judgments because of the misuse of fictitious names or marketing names that do not identify the licensee. The advisory says, “It is the view of the Consumer Affairs Division that any use of a marketing name that does not clearly communicate the name of the properly licensed general bail bond agent would constitute misconduct or misrepresentation. Misconduct or misrepresentation in the performance of the functions of a bail bond agent may result in an action by the director to discipline the agent’s license. As such, bail bond agents are required to conduct business under the names by which they use to maintain licensure with the Department, or use a generally recognizable version of such name. This generally recognizable version of such name must be in a form that the Department, Missouri courts, and the general public recognize as a licensed agent. This will enable Missouri courts to easily monitor who is writing bonds in their courts, disable those bail bond agents that do not maintain current licensure with the Department and curtail those agents that have unsatisfied forfeitures with the courts from writing additional bonds.”

The second advisory has to do with the licensing of bail bond corporations. The DIFP explains, “Under previous administrations, the Department accepted applications for General Bail Bond Agents operating under a corporate form of business. However, Missouri Supreme Court Rule 33.20 states, ‘Any corporation, association, or company formed under the provisions of section §379.010, RSMo, for the purpose of making surety insurance shall be qualified to act as a surety upon any bail bond taken under the provisions of these rules upon presenting evidence satisfactory to the court of its solvency…’ Corporations that ‘make’ or write surety insurance must be structured as an insurance company and properly licensed as an insurance company under section §379.010, RSMo. As such, if this entity is a stock company, it must maintain a fully paid capital of at least eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000.00) and a surplus of at least eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000.00). Corporations that write surety, but are not admitted under section §379.010, RSMo, are in violation of section §375.310, RSMo and are subject to civil and criminal enforcement. Corporations that were previously admitted to write surety in Missouri now have two options: 1) they can apply for a general bail bond agent license under an individual’s name; or 2) they can continue to operate as a corporation, but they must do so as an agent of an insurance company that is registered under §379.010, RSMo. Under this second arrangement, the insurance company is writing the surety, as opposed to the corporate agent. The corporate agent must submit to the Department a copy of a general power of attorney appointing the corporation to represent the company in matters of bail. This power of attorney must be submitted to the Department at the time of initial application, as well as biennial renewal.”

The DIFP met with bail bond corporations last month to discuss the changes in licensing procedures.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October Unsatisfied Judgment Listing

The bail bond unsatisfied judgment list is compiled by the DIFP and the Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator. The following companies/general agents appear on the list distributed 10/6/2006. The list is distributed to local courts via electronic means.

1) A Aarons Bonding Company, administratively dissolved corporation, president- Lewis David Duncan of Excelsior Springs, MO
2) A Way Out Investments, Inc., president-David Bush of Blue Springs, MO, license inactive
3) Jack Allison, general agent of Mexico, MO
4) C&M Bonding, Inc., president- Cody Ice of Houston, MO
5) L&C Investment Group, president-Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO***
6) Carol Sharp, general agent of Leawood, KS
7) David McKinney, inactive general agent of Independence, MO
8) Nobel Insurance Company, no current insurance certificate in MO.

***A supersedeas bond was posted by L&C on 8/3/2006 in Buchanan County staying execution of judgment pending appeal.

Note: The judgment list does not provide the address of the company or corporate officers. I added the address, corporate presidents, and corporate status using the Missouri Secretary of State business database as well as the DIFP licensing information.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Bail Association Forms PAC

The Missouri Professional Bail Bond Association has formed a political action committee (PAC). For those who are unfamiliar with political jargon, the American Heritage Dictionary defines a PAC as: A committee formed by business, labor, or other special-interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates whom they support. The committee treasurer is association lobbyist Steve Carroll. The PAC chair is association president Jack Allison of Allison Bonding, Mexico, MO. The vice-chair is Ray Vunovich, agent of Allison Bonding. George Dodge, owner of Dodge Bonding of Columbia, MO, serves as second vice-chair.

According to the by-laws proposed in June, to be a non-voting member of the PAC you must be a member of the association and contribute a minimum of $100 annually. In order to be a voting member of the PAC, you must contribute $500 annually. If you want to be an officer of the PAC, that will cost you $1,000. After you have purchased a voting-level membership on the committee, you will be allowed to vote on proposed campaign contributions in support of candidates or members of the Missouri General Assembly. Although the bail association proposed the by-laws, the committee operates autonomously from the association and is not required to report back to the members of the bail association. Association members are only "eligible" to attend the PAC committee meetings after making the required "minimum contribution." The proposed by-laws state that business and affairs of the committee is vested in those who have purchased voting-level seats on the committee.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Dotson/Jackson Trial Scheduled for Oct. 30th

The federal case against Virgil Lee Jackson and Glen Dotson, both Missouri licensed bondsmen, is scheduled to go to trial on October 30th. Jackson has been in federal custody since October 2005, after being charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and using interstate commerce with the intent to murder for pecuniary gain. The federal indictment alleges that competitor Jerry Cox was the intended victim of the plot. Dotson has been in custody since June 2006, after allegedly delivering the firearm to Jackson. Dotson’s present attorney, Ronald Jenkins of St. Louis, was appointed last month after his previous attorney withdrew from the case. Jenkins said in a motion before the court, “Counsel has yet to determine if he can be ready for trial as of October 30, 2006, but will inform the Court shortly about his status.” In a previous ruling, the judge stated that the trial will commence on October 30th unless both defendants had signed a waiver of speedy trial. According to Jenkins, neither defendant has waived at this time.

Friday, October 6, 2006

DIFP Rules Regarding CD Assignment

Each general agent in Missouri must maintain a certificate of deposit in the amount of $10,000, assigned to the DIFP (Department of Insurance). I have had several inquiries asking under what circumstances the DIFP would have authority to increase the assignment to $25,000. RSMO 374.715 allows for this provision. Here are the rules:

20 CSR 700-6.250 Assignment of Additional Assets

(1) The director may require the assignment of additional assets if:

(A) The department receives notices from a court or courts that the general bail bond
agent has accumulated seven thousand dollars ($7,000) in unsatisfied bond forfeiture judgments;
(B) The department receives multiple notices of unsatisfied judgments within a thirty
(30)-day period;
(C) The department receives a complaint or complaints that the general bail bond agent
owes parties to the bail contract or any persons providing funds or collateral for bail in
excess of five thousand dollars ($5,000); or
(D) The department receives notice from a court or courts that the general bail bond
agent, acting as surety, has executed a bond or bonds exceeding the assets declared to the court or courts pursuant to the provisions of Supreme Court Rule 33.18.

(2) In the event that the general bail bond agent receives notice from the department
that the assignment of additional assets is required, the general bail bond agent shall
obtain a Certificate of Deposit in the name of the general bail bond agent for the amount
requested by the department. The original Certificate of Deposit, an Assignment, and a
completed Acknowledgement of Assignment from the financial institution issuing the Certificate of Deposit shall be submitted to the department within twenty (20) working days of receipt of the notice by the general bail bond agent. Acknowledgement of Assignment forms are available on the department website at and at the offices of the Department of Insurance.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Law and Sausage

Chronology of Crime, Power and Politics

You have heard the expression--there are two things you don't want to watch being made, law and sausage. Well, I have seen both, and fully understand the analogy. Over the last decade, I have been in Jefferson City watching and testifying about issues important to me. One of those issues is the bail bond industry. I was there in 1997, 1998, and 1999 when bail bond legislation was being considered. I was there when the notification to law enforcement bill was passed in 2001. I was there when SB1122 was passed, the bail bond language being hidden in a dentistry bill. I was there when new measures were deliberated in 2005 and 2006. Being present for a decade, I could see some of the hidden factions at work behind these bills. To see some of the factions, take a look at the development of these bills, and the antics that have taken place the last several years.

Players List

Jack Allison of Mexico, MO-Democrat, general bail bond agent, president of Missouri Professional Bail Bond(ing) Association (
MPBBA). Hired lobbyist Steve Carroll in 2001.

Virgil Lee Jackson of St. Charles, MO-Active in legislature since 2001. Bondsman. Worked for Allison Bonding until his arrest in 10/05. Hired lobbyist
Steve Carroll in 2001. Arrested for conspiring to murder competitor Gerald "Jerry" Cox. Member and director of MPBBA.

Glen Dotson of Silex, MO-Bounty hunter/bondsman. Long-time associate of Allison and Jackson. Co-conspirator in murder plot against Cox.

Gerald Cox of St. Charles, MO- General bail bond agent. Local competitor of Lee Jackson. Victim of murder plot. Member of MPBBA. Former State Representative 1978 and 1982, Democrat.

Steve Carroll of Hannibal, MO-Democrat. L
obbyist and attorney for MPBBA. Lobbyist for Allison and Jackson before the formation of MPBBA. Former State Representative 1984-1992.

Senator John Cauthorn of Mexico, MO-Republican-Senator, term-limited out of office 2006. Neighbor to Allison. Sponsored MPBBA legislation 2004-06.

Representative Bob Behnen of Kirksville, MO-Republican-House of Represenatives. Sponsored legislation for MPBBA 2004-06. Currently running for the Senate seat previously held by Cauthorn.


1) Jackson, Allison, Carroll, and others successfully defeated restrictive bail bond language in the legislature in the years of 2001 and 2003.
2) In 2002 Jackson and Allison created a bail bond corporation called
American Guarantee. The company president and agent positions were traded between Jackson and Allison for the first few years. The company never licensed as a bail bond corporation. In 2004, Jackson incorporated Missouri National Surety. It is never licensed as a bail bond corporation, either. Although the corporations were not licensed, both companies wrote bonds in Missouri.
3) In 2004, Jackson, Allison, and others in leadership for MPBBA wrote bail bond legislation. It was sponsored by Senator Cauthorn (
SB1027) and Representative Behnen (HB1197). In the final days of session, Behnen incorporated the bail bond language into an omnibus bill titled "dentistry." The bill passed. The new language promoted by the association allowed for the licensing of convicted felons, who have not been convicted in the last 15 years. It was nicknamed the "Lee Clause" and took effect 1/1/2005. (Jackson hadpreviously been unable to get a general bail bond license because of the long-standing DIFP practice of not allowing convicted felons to have general bail bond agent status. Jackson had been convicted of burglary in 1959, burglary in 1967, forcibly breaking into a post office in 1971, and first-degree robbery in 1984.)


12/31/2004-Jackson allegedly visits Cox and threatens to kill him because he believes Cox had reported to the authorities that Jackson's bail bond corporations are fraudulent. Cox allegedly promises Jackson that he will make things right. Note: This is one day before the highly-anticipated Lee Clause goes into effect.
1/1/2005-The Lee Clause becomes law.
1/2005-Jackson makes
application for a general bail bond license. It is denied stating that Jackson had "falsely claimed" he had not been convicted of misdemeanor charges involving gambling in 2002.
1/20/2005-Cauthorn, who is serving his last term, introduces legislation (
SB213) written by MPBBA requiring all agents in the state join a state-sanctioned bail bond association. Those not wanting to join the state-approved association will not be allowed to renew their licenses. Of course the MPBBA knows that their treasury will be greatly enriched if they can force every bail bond agent in the state to be a member. Jackson and Allison are both leaders of MPBBA.
1/31 to 2/9/2005-
Campaign contributions are reported by Behnen from Jackson, Allison, MPBBA, Cox and others.
3/1/2005-Behnen introduces legislation (
HB662) in the House that is identical to the Cauthorn bill.
4/12/2005-Behnen, Committee Chair, inserts the bail bond language into another licensing bill,
HB665. The bill passes the House but does not reach a vote of the full Senate.
DIFP denies Jackson's general bail bond agent license because he had acted as a general agent without a license. This is the same issue that allegedly had caused Jackson to threaten Cox to begin with.
9/15-10/24/2005-Lee Jackson is under investigation by the ATF for conspiring to murder Jerry Cox. The ATF allegedly has taped conversations with Jackson orchestrating the conspiracy. Jackson makes arrangements to have Cox shot after the televised football game on 10/24/2005.
10/24/2005-Jackson is arrested and held on federal charges. He is denied bail.
11/4/2005-The DIFP issues a
press release ordering a "crackdown" on convicted felons who are licensed as bail bond agents. Announces they are taking action against James Cox's license because he is a convicted felon. James is the son of Gerald Cox.
11/12/2005-Allison and Carroll are quoted in the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch denouncing Jackson's actions. Also quoted as going to clean-up the industry of dangerous felons and said that the association had revoked Jackson's membership. Allison denies knowledge of Jackson's extensive criminal history. The report states that Allison has other felons working for his company. Behnen is quoted in the same article admitting that the Lee Clause apparently was passed to help an individual, but could not recall Jackson's involvement in Behnen's bail bond bill.
12/22/2005-DIFP announces they are taking action against Jackson's bail bond license.
1/17/2006-Cauthorn introduces legislation (
SB885) for MPBBA. Allison still serves as president and Carroll as lobbyist. The bill prohibits some felons from writing bonds by carefully using the statutory definition of dangerous felony, which is a short list of heinous crimes like forcible rape, forcible sodomy, and child sexual abuse. However, the same bill would allow felons to write bonds if convicted of crimes including manufacture and distribution of drugs, fraud, theft, or other felonies not resulting in serious injury to another person.
3/9/2006-Behnen introduces legislation (
HB1997) for MPBBA. His legislation, although includes the dangerous felony clause, also includes language making the bail agent responsible for the payment of judgments (not the company) and requires an agent wishing to leave a company get a written release from his current company before going to work for a competitor. To Behnen's credit, he never gave this bill a hearing.
3/27/2006-Cauthorn's bill gets
stuck in committee.
4/11-4/12/2006-Cauthorn tries to get all the bail bond language wanted by the association into another insurance licensing bill (
SB895) that was written and promoted by the DIFP. The amendment is defeated. Cauthorn threatens to kill the DIFP's bill in his committee, the Fiscal Oversight Committee. The bill sponsor agrees to add the bail bond language when the bill reaches the House.
Wes Shoemyer-Democrat, who is running against Bob Behnen (for the Senate seat now vacant by Cauthorn) accepts campaign contribution from Allison household.
5/4/2006-The House committee puts Cauthorn's bail bond language in the bill as a
committee substitute.
5/12/2006-The bill dies without being passed.
6/1/2006-Dotson is arrested for allegedly furnishing the gun (to Jackson) to be used in the plot to murder Cox. He is held without bail.
6/4/2006-Allison is
interviewed by the Joplin Globe. The Globe featured two stories about Allison's agent in Joplin, who is a convicted felon. Allison denies knowing about his agent's felony convictions, but states that it is legal for felons to work in the bail bond business.
6/19/2006-James Cox's hearing regarding his felony convictions is held before the Administrative Hearing Commission. Cox is represented by Carroll, the lobbyist and attorney for MPBBA.
9/2006-DIFP announces that corporations can no longer be general agents. Require all general corporations to convert licenses under an individual general agent.

So where do we stand? My guess is that MPBBA, Allison, and Carroll will be back in the halls of the Capitol in January. Cauthorn is gone and Behnen seems to have lost interest in their shenanigans. They will shop for a new politician and the saga will continue. They will continue to sponsor legislation that allows felons, that represses small, independent companies and agents, and enriches their own pockets. Presumably, Jackson will eventually go to trial. Hopefully, no one will forget the role that Jackson, Allison, Carroll and MPBBA have in making sausage--I mean law.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Lee Jackson Hearing Postponed Again

The disciplinary complaint filed against licensed bondsman Virgil “Lee” Jackson has been postponed again. The Administrative Hearing Commission was originally scheduled to hear the complaint in July and it was then postponed to October 3rd. That date has now been rescheduled to January 9, 2007. The Missouri Department of Insurance (DIFP) filed the complaint last December after Jackson was arrested by federal authorities. According to an article appearing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the DIFP alleges that Jackson is subject to discipline because of the following violations:

1) He illegally possessed a concealable gun after having been convicted of first-degree robbery in 1984.
2) He conspired to murder bail bondsman Gerald Cox.
3) When he applied for a license as a general bail bondsman in January, he falsely claimed he had not been convicted of a misdemeanor within the past 15 years, when in fact he had been convicted in 2002 of two illegal gambling misdemeanors. (Case number 45R010200414 on casenet.)
4) He had acted as a general bail bond agent when he did not have a license to do so.

According to the P-D article, Jackson’s attorney, Chet Pleban, described the DIFP’s complaint as "political pandering" due to the public attention given to Jackson’s criminal record.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Bail Bond License Growth in Missouri

There is an article in the Toledo Blade profiling the tremendous growth in the bail bond industry in recent years. I decided to take a look at the growth patterns for the bail bond industry in Missouri. The results were very surprising to me. For the purpose of camparison, I used data from 1996 to 2005.

In 1996 there were 656 bail bond license holders. By 2005, that number increased to 893, for a total increase 237,or a 37% increase.

During the same period, the number of general agents decreased by 1, from 79 to 78.

However, between the years of 1996 and 2005, the number of general agent corporations sky-rocketed. In 1996 there were only 13 bail bond corporations licensed. By 2005, that number increased to 54, or a 316% increase. (The DIFP recently announced that they would no longer license bail bond corporations, unless those corporations were licensed under the insurance laws of Missouri. It is presumed that most bail bond corporations will convert their bail bond licenses to general agent licenses.)

There is approximately one general agent or corporaton for every seven bail bond agents in the state.

Overall, between 1996 and 2005, the total bail bond license holders (for all license classes in Missouri) has increased by 37%.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

September Unsatisfied Judgment List

The bail bond unsatisfied judgment list is compiled by the DIFP and provided to local courts by the Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator. The following companies/general agents appear on the list distributed 9/1/2006.

1) A Aarons Bonding Company, administratively dissolved corporation, president- Lewis David Duncan of Excelsior Springs, MO
2) A Way Out Investments, Inc., president-David Bush of Blue Springs, MO, license inactive
3) Bail Now, Inc., administratively dissolved corporation, president, Michael Palmer of Smithville, MO. Michael Palmer now president of Palmer Bonding, Inc.
4) C&M Bonding, Inc., president- Cody Ice of Houston, MO
5) L&C Investment Group, president-Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO
6) Lonnie Moore, general agent of Millersville, MO
7) David McKinney, inactive general agent of Independence, MO
8) Nobel Insurance Company, no current insurance certificate in MO.

****The judgment list does not provide the address of the company or corporate officers. I added the address, corporate presidents, and corporate status using the Missouri Secretary of State business database as well as the DIFP licensing information.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

AHC To Hear Case Against MO Bonding Company

The Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) will hear a complaint against a bonding corporation and its president, Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO. The complaint, filed by the Department of Insurance, (DIFP) alleges that L&C Investment Group, Inc., and its president, Cheatham, are subject to discipline for failing to return bond premium and failing to satisfy an outstanding judgment. The complaint alleges that Cheatham collected $10,000 from a defendant's family member in order to post his bond. Cheatham stands accused of misappropriation of premium for not returning the premium to the defendant’s family after he was unable to post the bond. The DIFP also alleges that Cheatham and his company failed to satisfy a $100,000 bail bond judgment in Buchanan County in another case. The judgment was appealed and previously covered here. The complaint asks the AHC to make findings of fact and conclusions of law stating that DIFP has cause to discipline the licenses of both Cheatham and his company. The hearing is scheduled for October 10, 2006.

Monday, September 18, 2006

MO DIFP Will No Longer License Bail Bond Corporations

In a meeting held a few weeks ago, the Missouri Department of Insurance (DIFP) announced that they will no longer allow the licensing of general bail bond corporations. Deputy Director Doug Ommen explained that prior administrations had allowed the licensing of corporations and the current administration had decided it was not permissable under the current bail bond statutes and Missouri Supreme Court Rules. Ommen elucidated the department’s decision saying that Missouri Supreme Court Rule 33.17 only allows for the licensing of a natural person as a bail bond agent. Ommen also explained that rule 33.20, which addresses bail bond corporations, only allows corporations which are formed under the insurance statutes and have a certificate of authority issued in Missouri. The DIFP will continue to license general bail bond corporations who work under the authority of a licensed insurance company. All other bail bond companies who hold corporate licenses will be required to reapply as a general bail bond agent. The department met with companies affected by these changes and is assisting them with the licensing changes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Vermont Supreme Court Rules Cash-Only Bonds Unconstitutional

In a decision handed down last week, the Vermont Supreme Court has held that cash only bonds are unconstitutional. The case involves Henry Hance Jr., who was held on a $60,000 cash-only bond for felony DWI (8th offense), possession of cocaine, and driving while suspended. Hance failed to appear and left the state. He was captured and extradited back to Vermont five months later. The court then issued the cash-only bond. Hance asked for a bond review and the conditions were unchanged. He appealed and eventually the case was heard by the Vermont Supreme Court. The high court ruled that although the state statutes allowed cash-only bonds, the Vermont State Constitution prohibited it. The court stated in its ruling, “Our Constitution provides that ‘all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties.’ To permit imposition of cash-only bail would impermissibly restrict an accused's ability to negotiate with a surety to avoid pretrial confinement upon a promise of appearance. When viewed in its historical context, it is apparent that the term ‘surety’ in Vermont's Constitution refers to a third party who guarantees the accused's appearance in exchange for accepting the substantial financial obligation that will be imposed should the accused fail to appear. Thus, the intervention of a surety is a critical mechanism for protecting the rights of the accused as well as the interests of the courts. Denying a defendant the right to be bailable by sufficient surety, ignores the need to reconcile the right to freedom during trial and pending judicial review with the legitimate interest of having defendant appear, and violates the person's rights under our Constitution. In a case such as this one, the imposition of cash-only bail is, in effect, a denial of bail under circumstances that are not constitutionally permissible.”

Missouri’s Constitution also has the “sufficient sureties” clause. I could find no opinion in Missouri court archives that speak on whether Missouri courts have ruled on this constitutional question.

Shots Fired at Bondsmen in Moberly

According to several Mid-Missouri news sources, shots were fired at bondsmen when they attempted to apprehend fugitive Darren L. Jones of Moberly. Jones was finally taken into custody early Monday morning after a seven-hour standoff with local police, sheriff's department and Missouri State Highway Patrol. According to a Moberly Police Department report, officers responded after a call was received from a bonding company stating they were in a foot pursuit and that Jones had fired shots at them. He was being sought after failing to appear for felony tampering and parole violation. Jones had two active felony warrants for his arrest. After the seven-hour standoff, Jones was taken into custody without incident. Casenet indicates that the tampering bond was written in August by P and J Bail Bonds, LLC. P and J is owned by Pamela Robinson of Brookfield, MO and Jeff Stilwell of Chillicothe, MO.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Proposed Rule Change for Bail Bond Companies

UPDATE: 9/8/2006 -Today, the DIFP announced that they had withdrawn this proposed rule for consideration. The rule will not take effect.

Post 9/1/2006-The Missouri Department of Insurance (DIFP) has filed a proposed rule with the Missouri Secretary of State. The rule proposes that all bail bond agents, general agents, and surety recovery agents must register the name (DBA) of their companies with the department. The cost of this registration will be $25.00. The rule exempts those using their first/last names as their business name. Companies are not exempted if they allow other agents to use their first or last name as their business name. The company must register all persons authorized to transact business under the company name. Each company using a DBA prior to the enactment of this rule will have the right to first register his/her name with the department. The request to first register must be received within 30 days of the effective date of this rule. No effective date has been set at this time. The rule must first be made final before an effective date is set. Failing to comply with the registration requirement may be grounds for discipline by the DIFP.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Training Spotlight-Part III

Ozark Professional Training Center

This is the last part in a series of getting to know more about some of our Department of Insurance approved training providers.

Mike Temen owns Ozark Professional Training Center. (Email him here.) He is state-approved in both continuing and initial bail bond training. He additionally is an NRA instructor and a CCW instructor. He will offer classes weekly for continuing ed and bi-monthly for initial basic training. Temen's credentials are as follows: Former chief of police, retired police officer, former correctional officer and supervisor and riot squad member, police Instructor/Trainer, taught all grade levels through university, generalist instructor for law enforcement, Missouri background investigator, Crime Scene Evidence Technician Specialist 1, taught ABE/GED, former ambulance EMT, currently a bondsman, and graduated summa cum laude with a 3.96 GPA BA English, 50+ hrs upper grade work. He said he is certified to teach: PR-24;Pepper Spray; Taser; Cont. Ed; Basic Bail Bond; NRA Certified Basic Pistol and Personal Protection Instructor; NRA Range Safety Officer; CCW; MBTI. He believes the industry could be improved by strict enforcement of rules laws and regulations and training, although he added, it’s becoming a lot more professional. Responding to the question concerning the recruitment of agents attending his class, Temen said, “I know I don’t, because I don’t hire agents. Some companies lose agents they expect to hire due to the 'newbies' becoming educated about industry standards and contract law.”

Training Spotlight Part II

Tactical Concepts, Inc.

This is part two in a series to help us get to know our approved training providers.

Tom Moser is owner of Tactical Concepts, Inc., of Rolla. You can reach them at their website, Tactical Concepts, Inc. Taccal is an approved initial training provider and is in the process of becoming approved for continuing education. Moser is also a Missouri-approved concealed weapons instructor and offers classes in self-defense. Taccal is currently offering classes twice per month on the week-ends in Rolla. Tom Moser is the instructor and provided the following information regarding his education and experience: “Almost two years as a bail bond agent, first entity in the state approved to teach the 24 hour course, 14 years in law enforcement, multiple instructor ratings, taught for 2 years at the US Army Military Police School-Advanced Law Enforcement Training Division, 30 credits short of my BA in Criminal Justice.” Tom Moser is not a general agent and vehemently denies recent allegations that class participants are recruited to go to work for him or other companies. Taccal said, “Although I have been accused of it, I have never done it and it does not happen at my class unless that person does not have a general agent. In that case ONLY, I will give them some names of some General Agents.”

Monday, September 4, 2006

Training Spotlight Series-Part I

Thomas Training Institute

Since most bondsmen will require continuing education in the up-coming year, I thought I should find out more about our providers. I recently sent all approved private providers a questionnaire. Three providers responded and I will feature each in the order his responses were received. Today, I will cover the first with the others to follow in the next few days.

Thomas Training Institute (TTI), owned by Mike Thomas, is approved to provide continuing education as well as initial basic training for bondsmen and surety recovery agents in Missouri. You can reach Mike at his website, . TTI will offer classes 2 or 3 times per month for initial basic training and will schedule continuing education classes at your location, contingent upon minimum attendance. Mike Thomas’s education and experience are as follows: Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration with enough credit hours to almost have a master’s degree. He was a police officer for five years in Missouri and has been a private investigator, conducting investigations and skip traces for attorneys since 1990. Thomas has been a bail bond agent since 1996 and a general bail bond agent since 1998. When asked how the bail bond industry could be improved in Missouri, Thomas responded, “There is a perception by the general public and by police that bail bond agents and surety recovery agents are unprofessional, untrained and generally thugs. The only way to change that perception is through education. To be perceived as a professional in any field, one has to train like a professional and act like a professional and dress like a professional. I not advocating dress like ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter.’ Our dress grooming should at all time be neat, clean and professional. I feel that the laws enacted in 2005 are a start, however there are numerous inconsistencies and a lot of vague language that needs to be addressed before we will have what we need.” Thomas also assures companies that bail agent recruiting does not take place in any of his classes.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Newspaper Headline: Bondsmen Key Component of Criminal Justice System

The Culpepper Citizen, a Virginia newspaper, printed a very positive “day in the life” style report of a local bondsman. Featured is 10-year veteran bondsman, Ronnie Lee. The article also quotes a local judge who describes the criteria for setting bail and was quoted as saying, “If we didn't have a bonding system that worked in a reasonable capacity, everybody would be in jail." The county district attorney called bondsmen “the pressure relief valve that keeps our system together."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Class Action Suit Against Use of Bail Schedules

A federal lawsuit filed against Wilson County, TN alleges that the bail-setting process in Wilson County is unfair and unconstitutional. The suit was granted class-action status last week by a federal judge. That could open the door for an untold number of former Wilson jail inmates to claim they were wronged and possibly seek monetary damages from the county. Stephanie Staley, who filed the suit, said she was treated unfairly because certain factors — such as her having a steady job, her ties to the community, that it was a minor offense — weren't considered when setting her bail. State law says those have to be taken into account as part of the constitutional prohibition against setting "excessive" bail. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution also forbids "excessive bail." Tennessee law also says certain factors must be taken into account in setting bail, including the defendant's criminal history, the likelihood that he will flee, his standing in the community, the severity of the crime and the danger he poses to society if freed.

At issue is whether Wilson County uses some form of predetermined bail schedule without factoring the individual risks associated with the defendant. The report says several of county judicial commissioners have said in sworn depositions they automatically apply some version of an unofficial bail schedule where specific sums are assigned to specific offenses. "Bail schedules were deemed unlawful in Tennessee because they prohibit the consideration of the factors laid out by state law," said Tom Nelson, the presiding judicial commissioner in Davidson County. Source:

This could open the door to litigation in other states that use pre-set bail schedules. Click the link to view the Missouri statutes pertaining to the setting of conditions and amount of bail.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

3 Courts Scheduled to Join Casenet

The Springfield News Leader reports that several courts are scheduled to be converted to the Missouri’s judicial database, Casenet. The 25th Judicial Circuit (Phelps, Maries, Pulaski, and Texas counties) is scheduled to be converted by this winter. The 21st Circuit in St. Louis County and the 31st Circuit in Greene County will then follow.

Bail News Around the Nation

LA Bondsman Testifies in Child Porn Case
KATC TV-LAFAYETTE, La. -- A federal jury convicted Jeffrey Johnson of Deridder, LA of child pornography said U.S. Attorney Donald W. Washington. Johnson faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a life term of supervised release. His bondsman testified that Johnson gave him a computer as payment of a debt. The bondsman's wife later found hard-core child pornography on the computer and contacted the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office. Deputies searched Johnson's home and found another computer and compact discs which contained hundreds of images of child pornography and similar printed images inside a black binder that was discovered under his bed, authorities said.

CA-Bail Companies Victim of Credit Card Scam
Victorville Daily Press-An inmate at San Bernadino County, CA, with the help of those on the outside, has bilked thousands of dollars in bail premium from bail bond companies and families of defendants.

In a con game lasting over five months, Erik Reuhle would contact new arrivals and chat them up regarding their arresting charges and bail amount. "He would tell them he had a rich uncle who believes in giving people second chances," deputy John Walsh said. "He would tell them to contact their family and to send them to their local bail bonds company and to fill out the paperwork. After that, a relative would call the business and take care of the rest,” said Walsch.

The family would have to provide the "relative" with some collateral. Walsh said cars and cash were the most common forms of payment. Then the "relative" called the bail bond company with a credit card number, which came back declined. When the card did not go through, the "relative" pleaded that it was a mistake and that he would call back once it was straightened out. Rather than the "relative" calling back, however, the bail bond company would receive a call from an individual claiming to be from Visa/Mastercard Merchant Services, instructing the clerk how to manually override the decline and force the transaction.

What the family and the bail bondsmen didn't know was that the "relative" and credit card official were one and the same, another con artist. Ultimately, the accomplices walked away with the collateral and left the bail bond company without legitimate credit card payment. According to the district attorney, the monetary impact to the county in fraudulent bonds could be into the millions.

AR-Bondsmen Charged in Lonoke Police Corruption Case
KATV-Lonoke, AR-Revised charges were filed against those accused in the scandal surrounding the Lonoke, AR Police Department just two days before a pre-scheduled court date. Together the defendants now face 78 charges. Charges have been filed against the police chief, his wife, a jailer, the mayor and two bondsmen.

One of the bondsmen, Bobby Cox Jr., is charged with four felonies including manufacturing meth and intimidation of a witness/juror. The other, Larry Norward, is charged with two counts of conspiracy to manufacture meth.

The former Chief, Jay Campbell, is charged with thirty-four felonies including multiple drug charges and theft of property charges, hindering prosecution, theft of services, and 8 counts of residential burglary. His wife Kelly Campbell also faces thirty-four felonies. She too, faces multiple drug charges, twelve counts of residential burglary and assisting with an inmate's escape.

Former Lonoke City Jail Dispatcher Amy Staley faces two felonies one of those charges is 3rd degree sexual assault of an inmate. Mayor Thomas Privett is the only defendant who is not charged with any felonies. He is, however, facing a misdemeanor charge of theft of services.

CA-Two Arrested for Writing Bail Without a License
The Insurance Journal reports that following a 10-month investigation by the California Department of Insurance's (CDI) Investigation Division, two Riverside, CA residents have been arrested. Kent Morgan of Murrieta, and owner of Rancho Bail Bonds, surrendered to authorities on August 14 after being charged with 40 felony counts by the Riverside County District Attorney's office. The charges include grand theft and permitting an unlicensed person to transact bail. Morgan was released on $100,000 bond. If convicted, he could face probation or up to 29 years in prison. Kenneth Kaesser of Chula Vista, surrendered on August 16 and was also released on $100,000 bond. He was charged with 20 felony counts including transacting bail without a license and perjury. He will be arraigned on August 22 in the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. If convicted, he could face probation or up to 15 years in prison.

In 2005, the CDI Investigation Division received an anonymous tip that alleged an unlicensed individual was soliciting and transacting bail at the Rancho Bail Bonds office in Lake Elsinore. The investigation revealed that between 2003 and 2005, while employed by Rancho Bail Bonds and under instruction by Morgan, Kaesser wrote hundreds of bonds worth at least $2,165,242 in bail contracts.

CA-Guest Editorial on Bail Financing
Examiner-San Francisco, CA –This is an editorial about the death of a police officer in San Francisco, who was killed following a police chase with defendant Steven Petrilli. It was previously covered here. The editorialist questions why Petrilli was released after being charged with 18 felonies and 11 misdemeanors over a 6 month period. The writer faults the judge for allowing him to post over $175,000 dollars in bonds and the bonding company who allegedly financed 100% of his bonds. The writer, Gary Delagnes, president of the Police Officers Association of San Francisco, states, “To add insult to injury, Petrilli was financing 100 percent of four different bails because of a new practice by some bail bondsman who no longer require an arrestee to post 10 percent of the bail up front.”

Monday, August 21, 2006

Court Announces Dress Code

Circuit Judge Benjamin Lewis recently informed lawyers in the 32nd Judicial Circuit which includes Cape Girardeau, Bollinger and Perry counties, that a new rule on courtroom decorum and dress will be strictly enforced. The rule, passed by the six judges in the circuit, states that attorneys should wear "appropriate professional attire" when in court, including a coat and tie for men. Professional attire is necessary from both lawyers and judges to help keep order in and respectability of the court, Lewis said. The rule also said lawyers should advise their clients of court formalities and proper attire. Defendants are not required to wear a suit and tie, but should be covered up and should not wear shorts or shirts with vulgar language.

Since the attorneys needed a reminder of proper courtroom attire, it follows that bail bond companies and their agents should also be aware of proper dress and conduct in our local courts.

Link Southeast Missourian

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Appellant Court Rules Against Bonding Company

An appellant ruling regarding when a surety is released from a bond was handed down this week by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. The case, State of Missouri v. Mark Anthony Wilson, L&C Investment Group d/b/a Bada Bing Bail Bonds, determined that a surety is not released from a bond when a stay of execution is granted. The defendant, Wilson, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and was sentenced to nine years in the MO Department of Corrections. As part of the plea agreement, Wilson was granted a one-month stay of execution on the sentence. L&C was not present at the plea hearing. Wilson failed to appear to begin serving his sentence. A bond forfeiture hearing was later held and the defendant was not produced. Five months after failing to submit to the sentencing order, the court ordered judgment against the bonding company. L&C appealed a $100,000 judgment in Buchanan County, citing that their obligation under the terms of the bond agreement ended when Wilson was present for sentencing on September 13, 2004, and that it had no further obligation to secure his appearance at the law enforcement center after execution of sentence was delayed. The appellant court ruled against the bonding company stating, “The terms of the original bond agreement required Wilson to ‘submit to any orders, judgments and sentence of this court or any court hearing this case.’ We find that L&C had a continuing obligation to keep track of the defendant and assure the defendant's appearance and compliance with court orders to appear to begin serving his sentence. Had L&C kept itself informed of Wilson's case, and did not want to be obligated for Wilson's release upon the stay of execution of his sentence, L&C could have surrendered Wilson to the custody of law enforcement.”

Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO is the president of L&C Investment Group, Inc.