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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

DIFP Refused to Renew Bail License

The DIFP has refused to renew John W. Garrett’s bail bond license. Garrett has been licensed since 1997. The department’s order states that Garrett entered a plea of guilty in 1996 to unlawful use of a weapon and received a suspended imposition of sentence after completing one year of probation. According to the order, Garrett did not disclose the SIS on his 2007 renewal application. Garrett has 30 days to ask for a hearing before the Administrative Hearing Commission.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Former Bondsman Gets Extensive Press Coverage

Last March former bondsman Thomas C. McGee made the news in Columbia after The Missourian investigated his bail bond license. The Missourian reported that although McGee was convicted of attempted arson in 2001 and aiding a felon in Kansas, he was able to get his bail bond license in 2004. (McGee had been convicted of pouring gasoline in the hallway of his home where three women lay bedridden.) The DIFP spokesperson criticized the way the department investigator had handled McGee’s case. The Missourian reported that former Investigator Volkmer closed McGee’s file stating, “Due to extreme mental problems at the time of the incident and from the police report, it appears that Mr. McGee was making a cry for help and this incident of arson was also an attempted suicide. There have not been any consumer complaints against Mr. McGee since his original license was issued. I believe this file should be closed with no further action.” His license expired in March 2007, and the DIFP was quoted saying that if he should re-apply, his application would be denied.

Two months later, the Kansas Department of Insurance revoked McGee’s license, citing its authority based on the fact his license had been cancelled in Missouri, he was a convicted felon, and the interests of the public were not served under the license.

A few months later KCTV Channel 5, of Kansas City, reported about McGee in a three part series. KCTV reported that a manhunt for McGee in connection with a robbery in Kansas, then reported that he was captured, and concluded its investigation reporting on McGee’s criminal past and licensing. The station interviewed an official from the Kansas Department of Insurance, who said that Kansas had issued McGee a bail bond license in good faith after Missouri had issued him a license and that the Kansas Department of Insurance was taking a close look at this situation.

McGee worked under the authority of his mother, Cynthia Saulmon. Her license, and the license of her company, Afford Able Bail Bonds, Inc., is currently under disciplinary proceedings before the Administrative Hearing Commission. Her case is scheduled to be heard by the AHC on November 7th.

It is unfortunate for us all that six months of bad press surrounded McGee, shedding a bad light on everyone in this industry, especially since McGee should have never been licensed in the first place.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bail Bond Tricks and Traps

Here is a great read at the American Chronicle. The article was written for the public to help them learn about reputable bail bond companies and how to identify bail bond scams. While some of the California bail laws discussed are not laws in Missouri, much of the advice is useful to anyone shopping for a bail bond agent.

The article warns the public about discount bond practices, bail solicitation, and how to avoid being scammed by an imposter.

TX Bail Employee Assaulted on the Job

My heart sank as a read the following report on FortBendNow of Richmond, TX:

A female bail bond office employee was sexually assaulted by two men as she manned a bail bond office on the night shift. Two men allegedly entered the bail bond office at 1:30 am and began asking questions about a bond. One of the suspects then pulled out a gun and demanded money. When they learned there was no cash in the office, they then took the woman to a back room and sexually assaulted her. The two suspects have not been caught or identified. The police are appealing to the public for leads in the case.

We all find ourselves working into the wee hours of the night, sometimes alone with people we don’t know. Try to be safe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bail PAC Files Report

The Missouri Professional Bail Bond(ing) Association-Political Action Committee has filed its October quarterly report. Again this quarter, a single $1,000 contribution was reported from an unlicensed bail bond corporation managed by general agent Jack Allison.

The committee reported the $1,000 donation from A-Aero Bail Bonds, LLC. According to the Missouri Secretary of State, A-Aero was organized in 2005 by Jack Allison and his agent, Ray Vunovich. A-Aero does not hold a bail bond license in Missouri.

The following received contributions from the PAC:

Representative Steve Hodges D-East Prairie, $100
Representative Tom Dempsey R-St. Charles, Senate campaign, $250
Senator Jason Crowell R-Cape Girardeau, $150
Missouri Legislative Black Caucus-$200

Last quarter, the committee reported another single $1,000 contribution from one of Jack Allison’s unlicensed bail bond companies, American Guarantee Surety, Inc. The Secretary of State’s website shows Virgil Lee Jackson and Allison were both officers until Jackson’s arrest in 2005. Allison currently serves as president. American was incorporated by Virgil Lee Jackson in 2002 with a stated purpose to write surety bonds. Although bonds were written in Missouri, American has never held a bail or insurance license. American still files annual reports in Missouri.

Link to post from July quarterly report.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

La. Judges & Bondsman Indicted for Bribery

A Louisiana bondsman and two judges have been indicted in US District Court , Western District of Louisiana, for RICO violations involving 24 counts of public bribery. Named in the indictment is bondsman Larry Neal Williams and Caddo Parish judges Vernon Claville and Michael Walker. The US Attorney alleges that the judges accepted bribes from Williams 24 times over a two month period in order to lower bonds, remove detention holds, and/or set low bonds. Williams owns A-Instant Bail Bonds and is an appointed agent of Allegheny Casualty Company, according to the Louisiana Department of Insurance.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bondsman Arrested After Shots Fired

General agent David Vinson is currently being held in the Morgan County Jail on charges related to a fugitive recovery incident which occurred last Friday. According to the Lake Sun Leader and the Versailles Leader-Statesman , Vinson shot at a fugitive as he was escaping in a red SUV, shattering the back glass of the vehicle. The reports indicate that the fugitive successfully escaped and his whereabouts were unknown as of Friday. Vinson has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon, tampering, 2nd degree assault, 1st degree assault, and discharge of a weapon at a moving vehicle. Vinson is currently being held on a $50,000 cash only bond.

Vinson, of Camdenton, has been a general agent since August and an agent since 1998. He has two agents working under his authority.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

AHC Rules Cause to Discipline in Residency Case

The Administrative Hearing Commission has ruled that there is cause to discipline the bail bond licenses of U&K Investments, Ulis Vickers, and Kristin Vickers. The AHC ruled that the Vickers and their company had committed misrepresentation to the DIFP when they claimed on their licensing applications to be residents of Missouri when they were residents of Kansas. The Vickers have surrendered their Missouri bail bond licenses. The ruling will become final in 30 days and then the DIFP will convene a hearing to determine what discipline to issue them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Unsatisfied Judgments

The bail bond unsatisfied judgment list is compiled by the DIFP and the Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator. The following companies appear on the list published 9/28/2007. 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) A&J Bail Bonding, LLC-no longer licensed company-4 judgments, $4,000

L&C is also listed under pending disciplinary action. The Administrative Hearing Commission ruled that there was cause to discipline L&C. The disciplinary hearing is scheduled for today.