Serving Missouri with timely information about issues of the bail bond industry.

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.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Inmate Poses as Bondsman in Scam

Bond scams seem to be becoming more prevalent. The Eastern Wake News, located in North Carolina, reported an alleged scam of posing as a bondsman to steal bail bond money from a mother. The alleged scam artists claimed to be collecting the money to bond her mentally challenged son who was in the county jail. Here’s how this one worked:

Inmate Danny Cole and accomplice Joshua Smith allegedly called Bonnie Childers (the mother of mentally challenged inmate Christopher Childers) and posed as bail bondmen. Cole instructed Childers to take $1,500 to a parking lot and meet Smith. Ms. Childers became suspicious when her caller id disclosed that Cole’s calls were coming from the county jail. She reported the calls to police. Police then went to the parking lot where they found accomplice Smith waiting for Childers. Smith told officers Cole had asked him to meet Childers and then deliver the money to another woman, who was then supposed to take it to Cole at the jail. The intention was to use Childers’ money to get Cole out of jail.

As of the time of publication, no one had been charged in the scam.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hugh Found Guilty of Wire-Tapping

Bondsman Richard Hugh, of Sparta, was found guilty of wire-tapping by intercepting the telephone communications of a Springfield resident without permission according to a press release issued by the US Attorney’s office. Hugh's trial began last Monday. The jury deliberated about an hour before delivering the verdict.

Hugh placed the phone tap on the victim’s telephone line in December 2005 in an attempt to get information that would help him locate Basil Minor, who was a fugitive in a Lawrence County, Mo., circuit court case.

Under federal statutes, Hugh could be subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Prosecution Underway for Impersonating a Bondsman

A prosecution is underway in Barry County against James E. Carrington for impersonating a bail bondsman. This may be the first time in Missouri that a prosecution under this statute (374-789 RSMO) has been attempted.

Allegedly, Carrington claimed to be a bondsman while performing repossession work. A complaint was filed alleging Carrington claimed to be a bondsman and he threatened arrest when confronted while trying to repossess a vehicle.

The case number is 07BR-CR00723 filed in Barry County. Impersonating a bondsman is a Class D felony.

Carrington used the services a real bondsman and posted a $10,000 bond in the case.

Bail PAC Files Report

The Missouri Legislature is not in session but political fund-raising is still in season. The Missouri Professional Bail Bond(ing) Association-Political Action Committee has reported a single, large contribution from the last quarter. On the same day, the committee disbursed this contribution.

The committee reported a $1,000 donation from American Guarantee Surety, Inc. I found it interesting that American was still in business and making political contributions. American Guarantee was organized by Lee Jackson in 2002. One of the stated purposes of the corporation was to “carry on the business of writing surety bonds.” American (and Jackson’s other company Missouri National Surety) came into the limelight in 2005 when Jackson allegedly conspired to murder his competitor Jerry Cox. The press reported that affidavits filed in the Jackson case allege Jackson wanted Cox murdered because he believed Cox had reported to authorities that Jackson’s companies were fraudulent. (American and National were never licensed as insurance companies and never held bail bond licenses, although agents were writing bonds under American’s paper.)

Until his arrest in 2005, Jackson served as president, vice-president, and other offices of American. American continues to file annual reports with the Missouri Secretary of State, although it no longer backs bonds in Missouri. Since Jackson’s incarceration, he is no longer on the board or an officer. The president’s position has since been held by Jack Allison.

The following Missouri House members received the contribution by American Guarantee:

Steve Tilley R –Perryville, MO - $200
Jamilah Nasheed D – St. Louis, MO $250
Jason Smith R – Salem, MO $200
Jason Holsman D – Kansas City, MO $200

*Jackson is scheduled to go to trial on the murder conspiracy charge and a related charge of felon in possession of a firearm on August 13th in the US District Court in St. Louis.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bondsman On Trial, Faces Federal Charges

Today is the second day in a four day trial against Richard Hugh of Sparta. Hugh has been a licensed bondsman since 2002 and presently works under the authority of Ray Callanan of Farmington.

Hugh is charged in US District Court with wiretapping and witness intimidation. The US prosecutor alleges that Hugh illegally tapped a telephone in order to gain information about a bail fugitive and later intimidated a witness to drop the complaint against Hugh.

*According to the MPBBA website, both Hugh and Callanan are members of the state bail association. Callanan serves as a director.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Editorial on Cash to the Court Bonds

Here’s a pretty informative and funny editorial on ten percent cash bonds. The editorialist lists the enormity of FTAs and a proven solution.

Here's a quote from the article: "So state bondsmen are hoping to do away with the 10-percent rule -- or at least have it employed more sparingly. Studies have shown that if judges require surety bonds -- meaning someone puts up, say, Mom's house as collateral -- they're 28 percent more likely to show up for court."

DIFP Refuses to Renew License

The DIFP has refused to renew Phillip Joyce’s bail bond license. This is not the first time in the ring for Joyce. He has been denied a license twice before by the Department and has a 1-1 record with the Administrative Hearing Commission on the DIFP’s decisions.

In the most recent Department action, the DIFP refused to renew Joyce’s license because he was convicted in 1995 of stealing by deceit in Scott County, Missouri, and pled nolo contendere to the same type of charge in Craighead County, Arkansas. The DIFP alleges that Joyce is not qualified for a bail bond license because the Department must apply the current licensing statutes retrospectively, that because of Joyce’s convictions, he does not meet supreme court rule, and that he committed fraud or deception by not disclosing his nolo contendere case in Arkansas on his application. Joyce has 30 days to appeal the Department’s licensing decision.

I wrote about the two previous Joyce decisions last year. Joyce applied for a bail bond license after his convictions in 1995. The Administrative Hearing Commission granted Joyce a license saying the licensing statute was permissive. They reversed the Department and granted Joyce’s license stating that Joyce exhibited a good reputation in his new community, was resolved not to repeat his mistakes, and was candid about his convictions. The AHC concluded that these factors outweighed the felony convictions and granted him a license. Two years later Joyce applied for a general bail bond license and his application was denied by the Department of Insurance for the same felony convictions. Again, Joyce appealed to the AHC. This time the AHC ruled in favor of the Department of Insurance. The AHC ruled that the wording of the applicable statutes and Missouri Supreme Court Rules prohibited the issuance of a general bail bond license. The commission said that a general bail bond agent shall meet the qualifications for surety on bail bonds as provided by Missouri Supreme Court rule..... And the Supreme Court rule at the time stated “that the surety has not been convicted of any felony under the laws of any state or the United States.”

Bondsmen Remember Colleague

Many bondsmen are mourning the death of Florida bondsman Jerry Dongo, 32, who was married and the father of three. As reported several days ago, Dongo was killed trying to apprehend fugitive Christopher Walls in a car. Walls had a woman and child with him. Walls shot Dongo as he approached the car and then Walls used the young girl as a human shield to prevent the other agents from shooting him. Dongo was with three other licensed bondsmen at the scene. The bondsmen were able to apprehend Walls after the shooting.

Bail bond leaders from around the country are calling for more personal security after this tragic loss. George Zouvelos, President of the NYPBA, New York State Professional Bondsmen & Agents said in a press release, “Our work is extremely dangerous and we should own and wear the best possible body armor we can find. I welcome discussions with the various manufacturers of body armor to discuss the commercial bail industries options for acquiring body armor for our bondsmen.” Joe Mastrapa, general agent of BAIL YES Bonding Agency of Miami Florida said, "Bondsmen in Florida and across the United States mourn the loss of our fallen comrade Jerry Dongo. We ask that each bondsman who initiates apprehensions no matter what State he/she is in to please wear a bullet-proof vest and continue to exercise extreme caution while dealing with and apprehending felons no matter how minor the offense."

Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Jerry Dongo.

Fugitive Escapes During Transport

The press was critical of bondsmen in a headline reading “Bounty Hunt Costs Taxpayers.” The story focuses on the escape of a fugitive who was traveling from Utah to Ohio when he escaped in Iowa. According to the article, he was escorted by two bondsmen and escaped at a convenience store. Several law enforcement agencies were called to assist in recapturing the fugitive. He was found walking in a ravine a few hours later.

My guess is the local taxpayers would rather have law enforcement assist in finding this out-of-state fugitive, rather than having a desperate run-away fugitive lurking around their city.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FL Bondsman Killed

A bail bondsmen was shot and killed Monday night at an apartment in Northwest Miami-Dade when he tried to take into custody a man who had failed to pay his bond. The bondsman, who was not wearing a bulletproof vest, was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where he died.

The man was accompanied by two other bail bondsmen, who were able to detain the shooter without any more shots being fired. Miami-Dade police took the shooter into custody.
Police did not release the names of the shooter or victim. Story at Miama Herald.