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Monday, July 31, 2006

Bail Bond News From Other States

Utah-The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a bail bond company lawsuit against the Utah Department of Insurance was settled Friday for $20,300. The amount represents income lost by plaintiff Rebel Bail Bonds during the 10 days in 2005 it was prohibited from writing bonds. In issuing the suspension in June 2005, the insurance department alleged that Rebel had written bonds above the limit set by the state. Rebel said the state erroneously included bonds that had been exonerated when court cases were dismissed or the defendants were sentenced, and complained that the department opted for immediate suspension instead of giving the company the chance to straighten out the misunderstanding. Its suit, filed January in U.S. District Court, alleged that suspending a company without holding a hearing first was a denial of due process.

Tennessee-The reports that a Red Bank, TN city judge candidate Johnny Houston said bonds set by Red Bank City Court Judge Gary Disheroon in the case involving the stabbing of Leslie Starnes were too low. Police said Ms. Starnes was stabbed eight times by her alleged attacker, Karl Rapp, on Sunday night. Houston reported that the bonds set by the sitting judge are too low, appalling, and in violation of the bail bond reform act. According to the article, bond schedules were declared unconstitutional in Tennessee 20 years ago. All defendants must be brought before a judge within 48 hours and the judge determines the amount of bond. Houston claims that Judge Disheroon failed to consider the safety of the community in setting the bond for aggravated assault and stalking and used a preset schedule of $1,250. "Obviously the judge’s preset bond schedule has been out of compliance with the law for many years. This noncompliance denies a defendant due process and fails to protect the citizens of Red Bank," claimed Houston.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bondsmen Assessed Penalties

The Missouri Department of Insurance (MDI) has assessed penalties against three Missouri licensed bail bond agents for failing to comply with Missouri bail bond statutes and/or regulations.

Sally Elliott of Norwood, MO - $400 penalty for using unlicensed persons to assist in the recovery and surrender of an absconder and aided and abetted the unlicensed persons in acting as surety recovery agents when they were not properly licensed. Elliott is licensed under the authority of AA Action Bail Bonds and Bob Griffin of Doniphan, MO.

Mark Vanderheiden of Kansas City, MO - $1,000 penalty for:
1. failed to use a Power of Attorney in a bail transaction with a court
2. failed to give prenumbered receipts for payment
3. failed to give clients a copy of their bail bond contract
4. failed to give receipts for collateral and failing to return
collateral for 5 months
Vanderheiden is licensed under the authority of BH&K Investments, LLC of Gladstone, MO and Vanderheiden’s own company, AA Monopoly Bail Bonds, LLC of Kansas City.

Michael McMahon of Camdenton, MO - $200 penalty for failing to report collateral to his general bail bond agent and for failing to return collateral after being released from the bond by the court. McMahon is licensed under the authority of Don Eickhoff of Rocky Mount, MO.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Insurance Department Investigator Honored

Jennifer Crum, an investigator with the Department of Insurance Consumer Affairs Division, was named Employee of the Quarter. She learned the bail bond industry so she could handle complaints and bond forfeitures while another employee was out of the office and also assisted in training the part-time investigator handling bail bond issues. Crum is responsible for investigation reports and interviews witnesses and producers. She works closely with department investigators, managers and attorneys to advance possible disciplinary actions against unscrupulous agents.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Insurance Dept. Moves to Discipline Bondsmen

The Missouri Department of Insurance (MDI) has filed two new complaints with the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) against Missouri licensed bondsmen.

In May, the MDI filed a complaint against general agent Gerald Franks of Independence, MO. The department alleges that Franks is subject to discipline because he pleaded guilty in February 2006 to possession of a controlled substance in Daviess County, MO. According to Casenet, Franks was sentenced to five years supervised probation. His hearing is scheduled for October 2, 2006 before the AHC. Franks has 14 bail bond agents working under his authority.

In July, the MDI filed a complaint against bail agent Ozell Scott of Florrissant, MO. In the complaint, the department alleges that Scott is also subject to discipline having pleaded guilty to two felonies. The complaint states that Scott pleaded guilty to felony resisting arrest and unlawful use of a weapon in St. Louis County in March 2006. His hearing before the AHC is scheduled for October 23, 2006. Scott is licensed under Darrell Tullock of St. Charles, MO.

On October 3rd, the AHC is scheduled to hear the complaint against Virgil Lee Jackson. His hearing was scheduled for May, but was continued. The case against Jackson can be found in the archives at the side bar.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bail Bond License Renewal Changes

The Missouri Secretary of State has published new regulations dealing with bail bond and surety recovery licenses. The regulations went into effect June 30, 2006. Under the revised regulations, all new and renewal applications must be submitted with a Missouri Highway Patrol approved, finger-print based criminal background investigation. Identix has contracted with the Missouri Department of Insurance to provide the criminal background screening. If your license is up for renewal, and you have not submitted a background check before, you will be required to submit this check along with your renewal application. The applicant is responsible for all fees associated with the background check which are currently $50.95. For information about where you can obtain a background check, see the link to Indentix.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

$5M in Bail Collateral Seized

The Colorado Division of Insurance issued a press release that stated it has seized collateral pledged to guarantee bail bonds from Amor Angel Portugal, aka Amor Angel Trujillo, a Colorado bail bonding agent and Heavenly Bail Bonds. The records contain consumers’ collateral, including promissory notes secured by deeds of trust to residential dwellings. The Division estimates the value of the collateral to be $5 million. The Division summarily suspended Portugal’s bail bonding agent license last year after receiving numerous consumer complaints regarding collateral that was pledged to guarantee bail bonds. A hearing on the suspension was held at the Office of Administrative Courts. The parties await the judge’s decision regarding finalizing Portugal’s suspension. After her license was suspended, the Division received information indicating that Freedom Enterprises, LLC and Lance Lemieux purchased the approximately $5 million in collateral. Lemieux and his company are not licensed by the Division and are forbidden from receiving collateral without a license under Colorado law. The Division issued an Emergency Order to Cease and Desist the Unauthorized Transaction of Insurance Business against Lemieux and Freedom Enterprises, LLC. The Division is working with local law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General’s Office and the insurance companies who underwrote the bail bonds posted by Portugal and her sub-agents to ensure the return of the consumers’ collateral. In many instances, Portugal took collateral in the form of deeds of trust which were made payable solely to her, precluding the insurance companies from releasing the deeds of trust to the consumer, upon discharge of the bonds by the courts.

Arkansas Bondsman-License Revoked

An Arkansas bondsman had his license revoked after a hearing by the Arkansas Professional Bail Bondsman Licensing Board. The board heard testimony from five women that bondsman Billy Kennedy of Colt, AR required sexual favors from women in exchange for getting them or a relative out of jail. Some of the women are suing Kennedy, others were located and interviewed by a state licensing investigator. Although Arkansas law states that a bail agent’s employer is liable for its agent’s misconduct, the board concluded that the bail bond company was not liable for Kennedy’s misconduct after hearing testimony that none of the women contacted the company. The decision of the board may be appealed to circuit court. The story was covered in over 40 newspapers around the country, as well as Great Britain and Canada.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

AHC Ruling in Felony Conviction Case

On June 22nd , the Administrative Hearing Commission ruled that bondsman Miltonio Wright is subject to discipline because he is a convicted felon. Wright pled guilty to second degree assault in 2002 and was placed on five years supervised probation. The Department of Insurance affidavit states that Wright was licensed on September 21, 2005 and his license expired on January 2, 2006. The AHC noted that they were confused about why the department would issue a license expiring three months after it was issued. The decision states that the department filed the complaint in December 2005 (2 ½ months after his license was issued) and Wright did not file an answer to the complaint. Wright’s license was not renewed in January 2006 and he did not appear at the hearing.

The case of Wayne Anderson Jr. was also held on May 15th. Anderson was found guilty in 1992 in US Court for distribution of cocaine. He was licensed in 1999 and the department filed a complaint against his license in 2005. Anderson was represented by counsel in the hearing and no decision has been published in his case.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Bondsman Uses Newspaper to Nab Fugitives

A Texas bondsman has found that printing the mug shots of fugitives in the local newspaper has been an effective tool in fugitive apprehension. The bondsman, Herman Rover, does not like to use bounty hunters, so he found that offering a reward in the local newspaper has generated tips that lead to apprehensions. The story was featured at this website after it aired on KENS 5 news.