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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.