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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hugh Sentenced in Federal Wire-tapping Case

Bondsman Richard Hugh, 54, of Sparta, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 18 months in federal prison without parole. Hugh was convicted of intercepting the telephone communications of a Springfield resident without permission. 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. Hugh recorded conversations from that telephone from Dec. 13 to 24, 2005, using equipment he purchased at Radio Shack.

Hugh’s bail license expired last September. There are no pending disciplinary actions against him at this time.

US Attorney’s Press Release
Hugh Found Guilty of Wire-tapping
Hugh on Trial

OK-Bondsmen Encounter Gunfire

According to this report from, Oklahoma bondsmen Carole Franklin and David Dunn barely escaped with their lives in a shooting incident near Oklahoma City. Franklin and Dunn approached an apartment to apprehend a bail fugitive. As Dunn prepared to kick in the front door, Franklin observed fugitive Vicki Sanders through a window and saw that she was armed. Franklin yelled to her partner as Sanders turned the gun on Franklin and fired. Franklin threw herself to the ground and escaped injury.

The Oklahoma State Police were summoned. After a six-hour stand-off, Vicki Sanders was killed after a shoot-out with police.

Wednesday, December 12, 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 appear on the most recent list. The list is distributed to local courts via electronic means.

1) A&J Bail Bonding, LLC, no longer licensed- 6 judgments totaling $7,900
2) L&C Investment Group, president-Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO, -no longer licensed-4 judgments totaling $103,250
3) Billy Corn Sr, Cassville, MO-1 judgment for $500
4) Sun Surety Insurance Company-1 judgment for $1,500

There are no agents, general agents, or companies reported with pending disciplinary action.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bail Bond Bill Prefiled in Senate

Senator Shoemyer Wants to Abolish the “Lee Clause”

Senator Les Shoemyer-D, Clarence, has prefiled a bail bond bill, SB869, in the Missouri Senate. Shoemyer’s bill introduces no new language and only seeks to repeal five words from the current statutes. Those five words, the Lee Clause, allow felons who have not been convicted within the last 15 years to be eligible for a bail bond license or a general agent’s licence. (See full text below. The bracketed text, “within the last fifteen years,” is to be repealed.)

RSMO 374.755. 1. The department may cause a complaint to be filed with the administrative hearing commission as provided by chapter 621, RSMo, against any holder of any license required by sections 374.695 to 374.775 or any person who has failed to renew or has surrendered his or her license for any one or any combination of the following causes: (2) Final adjudication or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere [within the past fifteen years] in a criminal prosecution under any state or federal law for a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude whether or not a sentence is imposed, prior to issuance of license date;

Virgil Lee Jackson and the bail association lobbied for the Lee Clause when he was a member of the Missouri Professional Bail Bond(ing) Association. Lee wanted the clause adopted because his felony convictions were over 15 years old and he hoped that he would be able to get a general bail bond license after the clause became law. However, shortly after the bill became law, Lee was arrested for conspiring to murder his competitor, Jerry Cox. Lee pleaded guilty last month and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

The Lee Clause was passed in an omnibus bill, SB1122 in 2004. The language was buried in a bill titled “Dentistry.” The bill was sponsored by committee chair Bob Behnen. Behnen inserted the bail language in the bill and accepted campaign contributions from Lee Jackson and the bail association. The Lee Clause became very controversial in the heated 18th District Senate campaign between Senator Shoemyer and former Representative Behnen. Shoemyer ran television commercials criticizing Behnen for sponsoring legislation supporting felons in the bail bond industry. Behnen lost the campaign to Shoemyer.

A spokesperson in Senator Shoemyer’s office said that Senator Shoemyer wants to repeal the felon language from the statutes because he wanted to act upon the issue he criticized his opponent for in the last campaign.

Last session, The Columbia Daily Tribune interviewed Speaker Rod Jetton about felons in the bail bond industry. When asked if felons should be allowed to be licensed as bondsmen, Jetton replied, “I believe I’m going to say no. I think that’s the correct answer – people with felonies shouldn’t have bail bond licenses. And if that comes up – I know that was a little bit of an issue there [in the Behnen-Shoemyer race] – I’m sure Sen. Shoemyer may deal with that. And I would anticipate that would probably get a lot of support.”

The bill is simple and straightforward. In only seeks to repeal the felon language from the law. We’ll see if it gets bogged down in the legislative session or wins support from those claiming they will support corrective language.

More Coverage on Felons in the Industry

Former Bondsman Gets Extensive Press 10/22/2007
Columbia Missourian: Felons Writing Bail 3/30/2007
Tribune Interviews Jetton About Bail Law 1/26/2007
Tribune Looks at Felon Provision 10/29/2006
STL Post Dispatch Series on Legislation and Jackson 10-11/2006
Law and Sausage Chronology of Bail Law Passage 10/3/2006
Joplin Globe Investigates Bail Bond Law 6/14/2006
Globe Investigates Bondsman with Criminal History 6/5/2006
How Felons Become Bondsmen 4/16/2006

Friday, December 7, 2007

FL-Bondsman Assaulted with Vehicle and Gun

According to this report in the The Ledger of Lakeland, FL, bondsman Terry Wells was assaulted with a gun and a vehicle as he tried to take Davis Paul King into custody for failing to appear on a $17,500 bond. Wells received a tip that King was trying to sell a stolen car in the parking lot of a Walgreens store. When Wells arrived, King recognized him and hit Wells’ car numerous times and then pulled a gun from the passenger seat. Wells pushed the gun out of King's hands and secured King on the ground before police arrived.

King was charged with theft grand auto, possession of methamphetamine, possession of oxycodone, possession of a prescription drug without a prescription, battery of a bail bonds personnel and failure of a defendant on bail to appear.

Services Announced for Bondsman

Our condolences to the family of bondsman Joseph C. Eldridge, 37, of Sunrise Beach, who died Dec. 3, 2007, from injuries related to an accidental shooting. He is survived by his wife and two children of the home, as well as extended family.

Mr. Eldridge worked under the authority of Ben Hilton and formerly served in the Navy in Operation Desert Storm.

A memorial service will be at 7 p.m. Monday at Kidwell-Garber Funeral Home in Laurie. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Joseph C. Eldridge Memorial Fund.

Full obituary can be found here in the Sedalia Democrat