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Friday, August 31, 2007

Avett Faces More Charges

More charges have been filed against Missouri licensed bondsman Randall Avett. He has been charged in St. Louis County with forcible rape, forcible sodomy, unlawful use of a weapon, and felonious restraint. Avett was arrested on August 10th and is being held in the St. Louis County jail with a $150,000 cash only bond. According to KSDK, Avett held a woman against her will at his business, RDA Towing & Recovery, where the alleged assaults took place.

In a separate case, Avett was charged in Jefferson County with burglary, armed criminal action, felonious restraint, and property damage. The victims allege that Avett and other bondsmen forced entry into their house while conducting fugitive recovery work. The victims reported that the bondsmen had made entry on the wrong house.

Avett works under the authority of Rick Adams and has been licensed since December 2005.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blunt Orders Troopers to Check Immigration Status

Governor Blunt has directed the Missouri Department of Public Safety (Highway Patrol, Water Patrol, and Capitol Police) to check the immigration status of every person they detain. Blunt cited a murder in New Jersey where an illegal immigrant, who was previously arrested for child rape and released on bond, was among those charged in the murder of three college students. The illegal immigrant was never reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit when arrested on the previous charges. Blunt stated that identifying the accused as an illegal immigrant when he was originally arrested could possibly have prevented the murders.

Blunt directed all law enforcement units in the Department of Public Safety to:

· Prepare for special training and deputization that allows state law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration law as authorized through section of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
·Encourage and assist local law enforcement to apply for immigration enforcement status and to otherwise offer state assistance, resources and support including making available Live Scan for local law enforcement agencies that will use it. To date, the state has invested more than $2 million of homeland security money in Live Scan, which allows fingerprints to be scanned in the field.
·Verify the immigration status of every individual presented for incarceration with ICE computer background status check and to complete full background checks on any accompanying adults. Anyone identified as illegal will be detained to prevent them from committing any crimes.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Charges Filed Against Three Bondsmen

Charges have been filed by the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s office against three Missouri licensed bail bond agents and two other men. According to casenet, charges have been filed against bondsmen Steven Morgan, Randall Avett, and Thaddeus Bibb, who all work under the authority of Rick Adams. The two other unlicensed men, Brandon Morgan and Rudulph Whiston, were also charged on related offenses. The prosecutor’s office has charged the men with burglary, armed criminal action, felonious restraint, and property damage. All face bonds of $47,000, except for Avett whose bond is listed at $10,000. Casenet records indicate that Steven Morgan, Brandon Morgan, and Bibb have posted bond through Adams.

The charges stem from fugitive recovery work. Allegedly, the men forced entry at a residence where they believed the fugitive to be staying. The fugitive was not at the residence and the residents denied knowing the suspect. The police were summoned by the residents and charges resulted three months after the incident.

IRB Offers Free Trial to Bondsmen

I received a solicitation from IRB Search today. IRB is an online skip-tracing tool and is offering bail bond agents 500 free searches in the month of September. It is also offering bondsmen a free web seminar on how to use their product. Details on the free trial are posted on IRB’s website. In order to qualify, you must submit a copy of your bail bond license when applying for access.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dotson Faces New Charges

According to a superseding indictment filed in US District Court in St. Louis, new charges have been filed against Glen Dotson. Last Thursday, a grand jury filed a superseding indictment charging Dotson with conspiracy to use/cause others to use a facility in interstate commerce with the intent to murder an individual and conspiracy to deliver a firearm to a known felon. The indictment names bail bond competitor Jerry Cox as the intended victim of the murder conspiracy. Dotson is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges on Thursday.

Dotson was previously charged with delivering a firearm to Virgil Lee Jackson, a known felon. Jackson pleaded guilty earlier this month in the conspiracy to murder Cox. Jackson is scheduled to be sentenced on November 1st.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

On the Web

A few months ago I featured several Missouri bail bond companies who market their businesses on the web. It was pointed out to me that I missed a couple of companies. Here are two other examples:

MU Bail Bonds/Josh Kayser

Peak Bail Bonds/Tom Peak

Friday, August 17, 2007


Yesterday, I published the outstanding judgment list, better known as-- THE LIST. If you have been around the bail industry very long, you have heard of THE LIST. Most general agents say “THE LIST” with fear and reverence, hoping their names never appear on THE LIST. Everyone wants to know who IS on THE LIST. Like the Momo the monster legend, most agents have never seen THE LIST, they have just heard about its existence.

To better understand THE LIST, you should understand where it comes from. First of all, the list is required by state law to be disseminated to local courts. The law states that the DIFP shall furnish each presiding circuit judge “…a list of all duly licensed and qualified bail bond agents and general bail bond agents whose licenses are not subject to pending suspension or revocation proceedings, and who are not subject to unsatisfied bond forfeiture judgments.” Unsatisfied judgments are reported to OSCA and/or the Department by local courts. If you have an unpaid judgment, you're on the list. To get off the list, the court must report the judgment satisfied. I assume that section of the list dealing with disciplinary action, the DIFP lists companies/agents who have pending for complaints for license revocation or suspension filed with the AHC.

I find THE LIST difficult to understand and have spoken to the DIFP about it several times. The clerks receive a copy of the list from OSCA in email format. Here’s what the body of the email says:

All Area Bonding
American Bail Bond Associates Ltd.
Amwest Surety
Billingsley Bail Bonds
Bonnett, Charles (d.b.a. Chuck's Bail Bonds)
Continental Fidelity Surety Co., Inc.
Doane, Kevin (GBBA*) (Deceased)
Gillihan, James (d.b.a. KC Bonding)
Gillihan, Shana (d.b.a. KC Bonding)
National Bonding Company
Rogers, Terry J. (GBBA*) (d.b.a. Rogers Bonding)
Swinson, Marcus (d.b.a. A & M Swinson Bail Bonding)"

Some clerks have told me they think the body of the email IS the list. The body of the email contains companies and agents who had licensing issues around the year 2000. These names appear in the email unchanged from month to month. You must click on the attachment to know who is on the real, current list. The attachment is an excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet has no title or date, so if the clerk prints it out to disseminate to other staff, no one knows what it is or which list is current.

Finally, the content of the list: The content of the outstanding judgment section of the list is only as accurate as the information received from local courts. But I think for the most part, if you land on the list you have an unsatisfied judgment. As far as the disciplinary section of the list, now that is a puzzle. Jerry Franks appears on the pending disciplinary section again this month. His disciplinary action was settled last February. Ozell Scott’s license was revoked by the Director in June, but his name still shows under pending action. Lee Jackson has had a pending action since 2005, but his name is not on the list at all. Afford Able Bail Bonds, Inc. has had a pending disciplinary action since May, yet the current list is marked “NO” under pending action for this company. There are other companies and agents on the list who currently have no pending actions for revocation or suspension and there are companies and agents who have disciplinary complaints who do not appear on the list. It seems unfair to me that pending actions are published at all. The agent/company has only an allegation of wrong-doing at the point they are published on the list used for court approval.

No one wants to see his/her name on THE LIST. If your name ever appears on THE LIST and you don’t know why, start making phone calls.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

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. The list is distributed to local courts via electronic means.

1) L&C Investment Group, president-Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO-2 judgments, $101,500
2) C&M Bonding, Inc.- president, Cody Ice of Houston, MO-8 judgments, $116,000
3) Afford Able Bail Bonds, Inc-no longer licensed company-1 judgment, $650.

The following agents/companies appear in the section listing pending disciplinary action: A Way Out Investments, Gerald Franks, Ozell Scott, A Aarons Bonding, and David McKinney.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jackson Pleads Guilty

Virgil Lee Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder this morning in US District Court in St. Louis. Jackson’s trial was scheduled to begin today. His sentencing is scheduled for November 1st and Jackson remains in federal custody. According to the US attorney's press release, Jackson faces up to 10 years in prison. Jackson has been in federal custody since October 2005, after he was arrested for conspiring to murder his local competitor, Jerry Cox.

Jackson had been licensed as a bail bond agent since 1996. According to several news articles, when Jackson licensed he was also a convicted felon. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jackson reported he had been convicted of burglary in 1959, burglary in 1967, forcibly breaking into a post office in 1971, and first-degree robbery in 1984.

Jackson, who was a member and director of MPBBA, was instrumental in changing the bail bond law so that felons who had been convicted more than 15 years ago could be licensed. Jackson had previously been denied a general agent's license because of his convictions.

Read the US attorney's press release here.
Link to STL Post Dispatch article.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dotson/Jackson Trials Scheduled Again

Virgil Lee Jackson is scheduled to go to trial in less than two weeks, on August 13th. Accused accomplice Glen Dotson is scheduled for trial on September 10th. Jackson and Dotson are both charged in federal court on criminal charges related to the alleged conspiracy to murder bail bond competitor Jerry Cox. Jackson remains in federal custody charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and using interstate commerce with the intent to murder for pecuniary gain. Dotson is out on bond and charged with furnishing a weapon to Jackson, who is a convicted felon.

Previous Coverage below.
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
Jackson Accused of Another Murder Plot 11/22/2006
January Trial Date Postponed 1/22/2007
March Date Postponed 3/19/2007

Bondsmen Serving As Elected Officials

Can you be a bondsman and also serve on the local school board, city council, or other elected position? Can you be an employee of the county, city, or other political subdivision and keep your bail bond license? The question has arisen several times over the years, and the answer is…..sometimes.

Missouri Supreme Court Rule 33.17(e) says: A person shall not be accepted as a surety on any bail bond unless the person is not an elected or appointed official or employee of the State of Missouri or any county or other political subdivision thereof, except that this disqualification shall not apply if the principal is the spouse, child or family member of the surety.

Additionally 374.702(2) RSMO 2005 says: No judge, attorney, court official, law enforcement officer, state, county, or municipal employee who is either elected or appointed shall be licensed as a bail bond agent or a general bail bond agent.

Back in 1980, (33.17e has not changed since that time) rule 33.17 was addressed by former Missouri Attorney General John Ashcroft. The AG was asked if a bondsman could also serve on the local school board. Ashcroft opined, “The terms of Rule 33.17 are clear and unequivocal. If a person is an official or employee of a political subdivision, he cannot be accepted as surety on a bail bond.” The AG defined political subdivision as defined in the Missouri Constitution Art. X, § 15: “The term “other political subdivisions,” as used in this article, shall be construed to include townships, cities, towns, villages, school, road, drainage, sewer and levee districts and any other public subdivision, public corporation or public quasi-corporation having the power to tax..” Ashcroft concluded that an elected school board member could not be accepted as surety on a bond. See AG opinion 95-80.

A decade or so later Senator Jet Banks was able to get his bail bond license while serving in the Missouri Senate. The administration at the Department of Insurance explained that Banks was able to have a bail bond license because he was not the surety under rule 33.17. The administration at that time held that the general agent or company backing the bond was the “surety” and a bail bond agent was simply an agent of the surety. Several bail bond agents around the state were then allowed to hold public office and also hold an agent license.

The question was publicized again in 1998 when Mike Randolph was elected county coroner. The question arose as to whether Randolph was the “surety” as defined by rule 33.17 and whether he could also serve as coroner. In an interview with Randolph, the Mornin’ Mail said, “He says he is an agent for a surety, but he does not qualify as a surety himself. He comes to this conclusion after obtaining legal advice as to the definition of a surety. According to Randolph, a surety is an individual that has assets at risk for a bond that is executed. As an agent, Randolph says he simply receives a commission for bonds that he arranges for the surety.” The county attorney saw it differently and said there was no distinction between any principal and an agent of that principal and that Randolph could not be Coroner and work as a bail bondsman. In January, Randolph resigned before taking office. The Mornin’ Mail reported that the court did have some reservations about approving Randolph as a bondsman if he was the Coroner in light of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Randolph's resignation resolved the question.

In May 2004, legislation was passed prohibiting a bondsman from serving as an elected or appointed official and simultaneously holding a bail bond agent license or a general agent license. The enactment of this law caused another coroner to resign his position. David Haley held a bail bond license and also worked as coroner in Randolph County. He filed for re-election in 2004. Later in 2004, the law was passed prohibiting him from having a bail license and serving as coroner. Haley won his bid for re-election and the new law took effect in January 2005. The Moberly Monitor-Index reported that Haley contacted department officials who said he would be unable to renew his bail bond license because of his job as coroner. Haley also contacted legislators in an effort to have the statute repealed. In the end, Haley was forced to choose between his license and his job as coroner. He resigned as coroner before renewing his license.

I asked the DIFP how they currently interpreted this statute and Supreme Court Rule 33.17. So far, I have not received a reply. If you are a public official or thinking of running for public office, just be aware that other bondsmen successfully ran campaigns and then were forced from office.