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Thursday, August 24, 2006

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.”

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Although Missouri Bondsman encourages debate on topics of interest to the bail industry, please be aware that comments are moderated. Please observe the posting rules. No comments will be printed that contain spam, profanity, or libelous comments. Please post comments in a civil, professional manner.