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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bail Discounting Covered by AP

An Associated Press article about bail bond discounting appeared this week in newspapers across the country. The report discussed the economic climate that created the nationwide trend of discounting. The reporter interviewed bail bond agents from several states about the practice of discounting and includes perspectives from the court and law enforcement officials. Here is a link to the entire article as it appeared in the KC Star.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TN-Bondsmen Witness Murder, Takedown Suspect

Nashville, TN-Newschannel 5, of Nashville, reports that three bondsmen who were apprehending a fugitive became witnesses to a murder. According to the report, the men heard gunshots at a nearby market. They ran to the scene and witnessed the murder suspect standing over another man who was shot. The trio chased the shooting suspect to a nearby parking lot and subdued him with a Taser. The bondsmen said they have been in the fugitive apprehension business for years and they saw this as another day on the job.

Cox Featured in Riverfront Times

Bondsman Gerald Cox was featured today in an article posted by the Riverfront Times. The article profiles the alleged actions leading up to the arrest of Cox, his son James Cox, and four other men. Cox has been charged with kidnapping, first-degree burglary, tampering with a motor vehicle and stealing.

Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza was also interviewed. Favazza removed Cox's company from the list of qualified companies in St. Louis City. The case was reviewed after Cox filed a petition in St. Louis City and the petition was denied. According to the article, an appeal is pending.

Previous Post
Cox Arrest Update
Bondsmen Charged with Kidnapping

Monday, December 8, 2008

Former Bondsman Wanted in Two States

Former Missouri licensed bondsman Thaddeus Bibb is wanted in Texas and Missouri for incidents related to fugitive recovery work.

According to Casenet, Bibb failed to appear last week for bench trial in Jefferson County on charges related to an alleged forced entry into a home in 2007. Bibb has a capias warrant for his arrest. He is charged with two counts of felonious restraint, two counts of armed criminal action, property damage, failing to notify law enforcement of intended apprehension, and 1st degree burglary. According to initial press reports, Bibb and two other licensed agents, Randall Avett and Steve Morgan, and two unlicensed individuals, Rudolph Whiston and Brandon Morgan, allegedly forced entry on a residence in Jefferson County. The occupants of the home called police claiming that the bondsmen had forced entry on the wrong house. Charges against all of the men resulted a few months later. Bibb’s original bond was $47,000.

Bibb also has a warrant for him in Matagorda County, Texas. He and Phil March, of St. Louis, are charged with impersonation of an federal officer related to fugitive recovery work. Bibb and March traveled to Texas in order to apprehend fugitive Edmund Franklin, who had failed to appear on a $500,000 bond through Block Bail Bonds. March and Bibb are accused of posing as federal officers in an effort to apprehend Franklin. Days after the incident, Franklin was arrested by the US Marshals Service on a separate federal warrant and was extradited to Illinois. Both March and Bibb bonded with a Texas bail bond company for $10,000 each. Bibb failed to appear on November 26th in Matagorda County and the warrant resulted. March is scheduled to appear next month.

Bibb originally posted bond on the Missouri charges with Rick Adams. His bond in Texas is a transfer bond transmitted through Safety National Casualty Corporation. The Texas executing agent does not know who ordered the transfer.

Bibb’s bail bond license expired in October 2008. He has not filed a renewal application.

Previous Posts
Bibb Trial Date
Bondsmen Charged in Home Invasion

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Retired Bondsman Receives Bronze Star

Retired bondsman Ray Callanan was recently featured in the Farmington Daily Journal when he received a bronze star for his service in World War II. He helped liberate captives in three Nazi concentration camps and one POW camp in Germany and Austria. “When we went in there, there were two trenches where bodies were stacked,” Callanan related. “One fellow saw a man in the piles blink. He took the man, who turned out to be a rabbi, to the hospital, which saved his life. When we went back for a tour in 2005, the rabbi’s daughter accompanied us.”

Callanan retired from the bail bond business a few years ago. He received his bronze star 63 years after his military service.

Link to article:
Callanan received gold star

Sunday, November 30, 2008

CA-Sluggish Economy Hurts Bail Bond Companies

Palm Springs, CA-According to this report filed by KESQ-TV, some California bail bond companies are reporting a 50% drop in business. The bail companies report that fewer people can come up with the minimum premium for release, trouble collecting payments, and the housing slump has reduced the number of indemnitors willing to use their homes for collateral. Jail overcrowding has forced some judges to release defendants without posting bail at all.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bondsman to Stand Trial Next Week

A bench trial is scheduled to begin next week in Jefferson County against Thaddeus Bibb, who was licensed as a bail bond agent until his license expired last month. According to court records, Bibb will stand trial for charges related to a fugitive recovery incident which occurred last year. Bibb is charged with felonious restraint, armed criminal action, burglary, and failing to notify law enforcement of apprehension. Bibb and licensed agents Randall Avett and Steven Morgan, and unlicensed individuals Brandon Morgan and Rudolph Whiston, have were all charged after allegedly entering a residence in search of an individual. According to initial reports, the men allegedly 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.

According to casenet, Brandon and Steven Morgan entered plea agreements and will be sentenced in January. Randall Avett and Rudolph Whiston trial dates have not been set.

Steven Morgan and Thaddeus Bibb are no longer licensed agents. Both have let their licenses expire. Randall Avett is currently licensed and working under the authority of Rick Adams.

CA-Bondsman Arrested in Extortion Plot

Bakersfield, CA-The California bail industry has encountered a lot of press coverage this week after the California Department of Insurance (CDI) issued a press release concerning the alleged activities of Cruz Bail Bonds, owned by Joaquin Cruz. The press release states that CDI worked collaboratively with local law enforcement and prosecutors in a two-year investigation. Cruz was charged with 19 felony counts including embezzlement, false imprisonment, attempted extortion and hiring unauthorized bounty hunters.

According to the press release, CDI investigators discovered that between September 2004 and October 2008, Cruz, owner of Cruz Bail Bonds, allegedly manipulated and coerced bailees and indemnitors into signing incomplete documents. Cruz then purportedly used the documents to fraudulently forge, transfer and sell collateral that he possessed as a bail agent - to profit from his clients without their knowledge. This included the alleged transferring of titles to homes and vehicles to Cruz or his common law wife, Eduvina "Diane" Chacon, even when bailees had not broken terms of their bail bond agreements. Once title was changed, Cruz or Chacon would allegedly use the property themselves, or sell it to retain profits. Property and monetary loss from their alleged scheming is estimated to be at least $298,000.

CDI investigators discovered that Isaac Trevino, a licensed bail bond agent and notary public, conspired with Cruz and Chacon to falsify, forge and alter title documents for property and vehicles. The alleged intent was to pass the titles as genuine with the Kern County Recorder's Office and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The CDI investigation was launched in August 2006, after the Department received a complaint from an indemnitor, alleging that she had been kidnapped by three unlicensed bounty hunters hired by Cruz. The victim alleged that the bounty hunters threatened to take her to jail if she did not give them additional money or collateral that had not been agreed upon initially.

One of the alleged victims was interviewed by KGET-TV in Bakersfield, who claimed that he had been kidnapped and held for ransom in an extortion plot.

Cruz is an appointed agent of Allegheny Casualty and International Fidelity.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Information in Cox Arrest

The St. Louis Post Dispatch printed a new article today concerning the charges against Gerald Cox, James Cox, and other licensed and unlicensed bounter hunters who were charged yesterday with kidnapping, stealing, tampering with a vehicle, and the licensed men were charged with failing to notify law enforcement before performing an apprehension. James Cox and Morris Davis were additionally charged with performing fugitive recovery without a license.

According to the article: "A raid at motel on Aug. 17 capped weeks of fruitless attempts to grab, bail bond client Leah Renee Pinion. Pinion served some time, got out and went back to jail on a probation violation, Circuit Judge Philip Heagney said. On July 14, her boyfriend arranged for Cox to post a $30,000 bond for Pinion's freedom. The boyfriend paid $1,500 of a $3,000 fee and promised the rest in weekly installments, according to court documents. But on Aug. 9, the boyfriend changed his mind and wanted off of the bond. Judge Heagney suspended Pinion's probation Aug. 11 and ordered her arrest, citing information from her probation officer and a bondsman. Bounty hunters, presumable hired by Jerry Cox, caught Pinion that day, but she escaped. On Aug. 14 and 16, Pinion called Cox to say she would surrender, but she didn't. In a 1:30 a.m. raid at the motel, four bounty hunters grabbed Pinion and her boyfriend together. The two were taken in handcuffs to Jerry Cox's office, court documents say. Alone with the boyfriend after sending the others away, Jerry Cox allegedly toyed with a handgun and said he had spoken to a prosecutor who "asked him why he had not arrested" the boyfriend on charges of aiding and abetting a fugitive, a court affidavit says. Cox allegedly told the boyfriend that he would be charged, and that his $1,500 in cash and home would be seized, unless he paid $5,500, the documents say. When the boyfriend agreed to pay, Cox let him go. The man's mother paid the $5,500 on Aug. 22, using the a life insurance settlement from her stepson's death, according to the documents. James Cox reportedly told her that they could have taken her son's house but were really in the "money business," not the real estate business, the documents say. Wayne Schoenberg, Jerry Cox's lawyer, said his client was home in bed during the raid. The lawyer denied that Jerry Cox had a gun in the meeting, and said there was no agreement to exchange money for a promise of no prosecution. Cox told the boyfriend only that he could have gone to prosecutors, Schoenberg said. The $5,500 represented the $1,500 that the boyfriend still owed, about $1,000 in expenses and a $3,000 fee for sending out bounty hunters — all spelled out in the bail contract, Schoenberg said."

Several news agencies report that James and Jerry Cox presented themselves to authorities yesterday and were booked, posted bond and released.

Read the entire St. Louis Post Dispatch aricle here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bondsmen Charged With Kidnapping

Arrest warrants were issued today for General Agent Gerald “Jerry” Cox (pictured at right) and his son James G. Cox of St. Charles. Warrants have also been issued against Surety Recovery Agent Erik Nolan, licensed bondsmen Kevin Grillion and Dennis Weatherford, and an unlicensed individual named Morris Davis. The six men are charged with burglary, kidnapping, stealing, tampering with a vehicle, and the licensed men were charged with failing to notify law enforcement before performing an apprehension. James Cox and Morris Davis were additionally charged with performing fugitive recovery without a license, a class D felony.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jerry and Jim Cox are accused of ordering the four other men to break into a Maryland Heights motel to bring a man to their office, where they threatened prosecution and taking the man's house if they did not receive $5,500. The man's mother paid the money to gain her son's release.

Gerald Cox has been a licensed general agent since 2003 and has nine agents working under his authority. James Cox's bail bond license was revoked in 2006 after he pleaded guilty to the federal felony of conspiring to violate civil rights. Kevin Grillion has been a licensed bail bond agent since July 2008 and does not work under a general agent's authority. Dennis Weatherford has been a licensed bail bond agent since July 2008 and does not work a general agent's authority. Erik Nolan has been a licensed surety recovery agent since May 2008. Morris Davis is not licensed.

Earlier this week, a judge denied Gerald Cox's petition for a writ of mandamus against St. Louis City Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza. Cox filed the petition after Favazza had not approved Cox's bail bond writing authority in St. Louis City.
Other Press Coverage:
KSDK Channel 5 STL
KMOV Channel 4 STL

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bail Premiums Falling in Alabama

AL-The Press-Register in Mobile, AL reports that the price of freedom is cheap in Mobile. Competition among bondsmen has forced the price of getting out of jail so low that accused criminals only have to come up with a tiny fraction of their bail. Others are released on a small down payment. Read the rest of the article here...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monthly Affidavits Required

The DIFP reports that the following general agents paid voluntary forfeitures of $300 each to the Missouri School Fund to settle disciplinary issues brought by the department. The DIFP alleged that the general agents failed to file sworn monthly affidavits with the department stating that there are no unsatisfied judgments against the general agent. The settlement agreement states that agents voluntarily paid the $300 fine without admission of a violation of the law.

Barry Block-Chesterfield, MO
Donna Cannon-Raytown, MO
Frank Kincaid-Buckner, MO
Michael Palmer-Smithville, MO

Ref: RSMO 374.760. Each general bail bond agent shall file, between the first and tenth day of each month, sworn affidavits with the department stating that there are no unsatisfied judgments against him. Such affidavits shall be in the form and manner prescribed by the department.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rebating Issue Settled

The DIFP reports that General Agent Charles Telle, of Hillsboro, paid a voluntary forfeiture (fine) to the Missouri School Fund to settle a disciplinary issue brought by the department. The DIFP alleged that Telle offered to rebate potential clients’ bond premiums by offering a 25% discount to those clients who voluntarily surrendered themselves to authorities. Also, the complaint alleged that Telle failed to respond to a department inquiry in a timely fashion and used an unauthorized marketing name. The settlement agreement states that Telle voluntarily paid the $300 fine without admission of a violation of the law.

The rebating statute can be found here at RSMO 374.717. A bondsman may not offer a discount, rebate, or give anything of value to a client or anyone on the client's behalf.

Pastor/Bounty Hunter Rescues the Lost

TN-Dr. Butch Varner, of Chattanooga, has combined two unlikely professions; he is a bounty hunter and a church pastor. When asked about how he reconciles both jobs, he answered, “We’re rescuing the lost (in both). We’re rescuing people who are on a bad course. In fact, in physical bounty hunting, almost everyone we’ve caught, they realize, man, we’re nice to them when we catch them, and we generally minister the gospel to them. It’s an opportunity. We know some people who have wound up going to our church. That is not our main evangelistic thrust, but we do see fruit from that.”

Bondsmen Witness Burglary During Stake Out

WA-According to KNDO-TV, unidentified bondsmen were performing surveillance on a house in Pasco, Washington, waiting for the homeowners to return. Instead, they saw three men pull into the driveway and break into the home. The bondsmen witnessed the alleged burglars load property into a car and leave. The bondsmen called police, who arrested the men a short distance from the home.

The news article does not say if the homeowners were thankful that the bondsmen placed them under surveillance and were able to help them recover their property. Also unknown, is whether the stake-out was successful and the bondsmen were able to locate the person they were looking for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Economy Hits Bail Bond Market

FL-Here is an interesting article posted on from Florida. According to the article, although crime may be unaffected by the economy, fewer people can afford the state-imposed 10% minimum bond fee and so more defendants are waiting in jail for their cases to be heard.

Conklin Featured in News-Leader

The Springfield News-Leader featured an article about general agent Ty Conklin’s other line of work. Conklin custom designed a motorcycle hearse and rents it to bikers wishing to send their loved ones out biker-style. Conklin’s website is

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bail Scammers Target Restaurants

A bail bond scam was reported to authorities in Conway, AR. According to the Log Cabin Democrat, a manager of a Waffle House received a phone call early Sunday morning from a man who identified himself as Brandon Clay and said he was a bondsman. The man said that he was at a Pulaski County jail with one of her employees, who had been injured in a car accident, and asked the manager for $220 to bond the man out. A few hours after the manager transferred the money, she told police, she found out that the employee had been at home asleep the whole time. A check of Arkansas licensing records reveals that there is no Brandon Clay licensed as a bondsman.

The identical scam was reported in Florida last month. Impersonators targeted restaurants, reporting that an employee had been arrested. The restaurants wired the money only to find out later that the named employee had never been arrested. Police report that it is difficult to find the accused scammers because the entire transaction was conducted by telephone.

How to avoid this scam: Check state licensing records. Almost all states have licensing records online. In Missouri, you can find them here. Call law enforcement authorities where the bond is located. Confirm that the co-worker or loved one is in custody and the person calling is an agent in that area. Check the yellow pages for bail bond companies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


MN-Here's a great story from Minnesota Public Radio about a couple who got into the bail bond business in their 60s. The article reviews the couple's interactions with the courts and clients and their philosophy about the bail business.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dotson Sentenced to 20 Years

Glen Dotson was sentenced today in US District Court in St. Louis to serve a total of 20 years. Dotson was found guilty in May of conspiracy to commit murder and delivering a firearm to a known felon. He was sentenced to 10 years on each charge to be served consecutively. Glen Dotson and Virgil Lee Jackson, both formerly licensed bail bond agents, conspired to murder competitor Gerald "Jerry" Cox in 2005. Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 10 years.

St Louis Post Dispatch

My Previous coverage:
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
Jackson Pleads Guilty 8/13/2007
Dotson Faces New charges 8/27/2007
Jackson Sentenced 11/1/2007
Jackson's Bail License Revoked 2/8/2008
Dotson Found Guilty 5/12/2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Craigslist-How to Avoid a Greedy Bondsman

I found the following ad on St. Loius area Craigslist this morning. As you can see, the ad is a posted as a consumer notice on how to avoid being “RIPPED OFF by a greedy bondsman.” Out of curiosity, I called the number. It is actually an ad for a particular bonding company and tells potential clients five good questions to ask your bondsman.

Those five questions are:

What is your experience? Your reputation? How fast can you bond my loved one? How much do you charge? What are your qualifications?

I think these are all good questions to ask of any bondsman. The recorded ad warns potential clients how to avoid unscrupulous bail bond agents and, of course, directs clients to a particular bail bond company.

Craigslist Ad:
Consumer Warning Notice:

Before you hire ANY professional Bail Bondsman, you encouraged to call a TOLL FREE hotline to listen to a free recorded message that reveals the 5 questions you must ask in order to avoid being RIPPED OFF by a greedy bondsman. Call TOLL FREE (877) 626-8683 X 3004.

Side note: The Missouri consumer hotline of the Department of Insurance, Consumer Affairs Division is 1-800-726-7390. The Consumer Affairs Division is responsible for investigating complaints against anyone licensed by the DIFP.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bail Scam Targets Seniors

The St. Louis Business Journal warns readers of a new bail bond scam targeting seniors. The STL-BJ reports, “An 85-year-old St. Ann, Mo., woman answered her phone recently, the voice on the other end said, “Grandma?” When she replied yes, he told her, “I’m in trouble. I’m in jail in Montreal. I was arrested because the guy I was traveling with had dope in his luggage. Grandma, I need you to wire me $5,129 for bail money. Once I get back to St. Louis I can return the bail money to you.” The victim did not wire the money and contacted the Better Business Bureau. The BBB has warned senior citizens to be aware of this emerging telephone scam preying on grandparents nationwide.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bail News from Other States

NV-According to KVBC-TV, Bondsman Dale Hazel, of Las Vegas, successfully deterred two armed robbers who tried to rob his bail bond office in the middle of the night. One of the accused robbers was later apprehended. He was a former client of the bail bond company. The other remains at large.

FL-The News-Press reports that bondsman Kevin McHugh made an appointment with a client to discuss payment issues in Bonita Springs, FL. When McHugh arrived at the residence, through an open window, he observed Charles See inside the apartment with drugs in plain view. McHugh called police, who seized 223 grams of marijuana and 1.2 grams of cocaine, 33 oxycoton pills and 40 broken pieces of Zanax pills.

FL-WFTV reports that Casselberry police might have never known about a meth lab had it not been for the bail bondsman who entered a house to revoke the bond of one of the residents. The bondsman discovered the small-scale meth lab in one of the rooms of the house. Agents with the DEA dismantled the meth lab.

NJ-According to Jersey Journal, three law enforcement officers and two bounty hunters have been charged with multiple charges for falsifying body receipts for defendants who have been placed in custody and bribery. Capt. Kenneth Sisk of the prosecutor's office and former sheriff's officers William Chadwick and Alberto Vasquez were charged with giving "body receipts" to bounty hunter Adel Mikhaeil to make it appear he brought 15 fugitives to justice, according to an indictment. The suspects actually had been arrested by law enforcement officers, authorities said. The indictment charges the former officers with official misconduct, falsifying records, theft by deception and conspiracy, while Chadwick was additionally charged with acceptance of unlawful benefit. It is alleged that Mikhaeil gave Chadwick, who served as captain of the sheriff's fugitive unit, $5,500 in return for six "body receipts." Neither Sisk nor Vasquez, a detective in the sheriff's fugitive unit, is accused of taking bribes. Mikhaeil would then turn in those fake "body receipts" to collect higher fees from the insurance companies that had posted bail on the fugitives. Mikhaeil was also accused of passing more than $5,000 in bribes to James Irizarry to steer more cases to him through his former employer, which helped locate fugitives for insurance companies that insure bail bonds. Trevor Williams, one of Mikhaeil's bounty hunter crew, also faces numerous counts including charges he helped Mikhaeil cover up $92,000 in commercial bribes allegedly paid to an insurance company executive in return for business.

Nole Arrested for Possession

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that bondsman Arlie Nole, of Hallsville, was arrested yesterday for possession of a controlled substance after the Boone County sheriff’s deputies conducted a search of three homes northeast of Columbia. Nole was released from custody after posting a $9,000 bond.

Nole’s bail bond licensing status indicates he has been licensed since 1994 and works under the authority of Harold McBee.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bondsman Charged with Stealing Premium

According to the Daily Journal in Park Hills, MO, bondsman Michele Mayes was charged with Class B felony stealing in connection with bail bonds she wrote. The charge alleges Mayes did not report 72 of the 489 bonds she wrote and failed to pay Allison Bonding $68,000 on those bonds. Mayes was employed by Jack Allison of Allison Bonding and worked from an office in Farmington from January 2006 to February 2008. She was supervised by bondsman, Tim Tucker.

According to casenet, Mayes’ bond is set at $25,000 cash only. She has not been arrested on the warrant.

Update: On 10/7/2008 Mayes' bond was reduced to $7,500 cash only. She surrendered to authorities and posted bond.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bondsman Charged with Forging POA

Late yesterday, The Lake Sun Leader posted this dramatic headline: “Bail bondsman busted: Wild Bill charged with forging another bondsman’s name to document.” According to the article, bondsman Billy Mack Snyder was charged with forging his former general agent’s name to a power of attorney form. The article quoted court documents, “...on or about August 31st, 2007, in the County of Camden, State of Missouri, the defendant, with the purpose to defraud, made a writing, to wit: a Power of Attorney dated August 31, 2007 and purporting to have been signed by Ben Hilton in the face amount of $150,000.00 bearing sequence number 00001 so that it purported to have a genuineness and authorship which it did not possess, and defendant used such forged Power of Attorney to post a surety bond for one John Anthony Kelemen in the account of Camden County, Missouri, resulting in John Anthony Kelemen being released from jail.” Snyder was released after he posted a $10,000 surety bond.

Snyder has been licensed since 1997 and now works under the authority of Michael McMahon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jail to Bail Article Wins Honors

The Columbia Missourian’s investigative report “From Jail to Bail” won honors in the 2008 Missouri Press Association's Better Newspaper Contest for Best Investigative Reporting. The article exposed felons licensed as bail bond agents in Missouri and how they are regulated. A list of all 2008 winners here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Charges Filed Against Bondsman for Stealing

Cape Girardeau Prosecutor Morley Swingle has filed a felony stealing charge against licensed bail bond agent Simon Ebenstein of Jackson, MO. According to court records, in November 2007, Ebenstein wrote a $30,000 bond in Cape Girardeau County. The probable cause statement alleges that Ebenstein accepted a check for $3,000 in payment for the bond. Four months later, Ebenstein filed a report with his general agent, Bob Griffin, reporting that he had only collected $1,500 and had discounted the remaining $1,500 premium because the fee had been paid by a church.

According to court records Sam Griffin obtained a copy of the cancelled check and presented it to law enforcement officials, who then filed a probable cause statement with the prosecutor. Ebenstein was arrested last week and posted a $7,500 cash only bond.

Ebenstein has been licensed since 2000 and now works under the authority of Barry Block. The DIFP has not filed any disciplinary complaints against Ebenstein at this time.

SE Missourian Coverage

Saturday, September 20, 2008

UT-Bondsman Arrested for Kidnapping

According to this report in The Daily Herald in Provo, UT, a bail bondsman has been arrested for stepping over the line while trying to track down a client, police say. Pablo Alcalde, 60, of West Jordan, UT, was tracking down a man who jumped bail. The man had been arrested on a domestic violence charge. The man was released from the Utah County Jail after posting a bond through Alcalde before disappearing.

Police say Alcalde exceeded his authority when he went to the home of a relative of the fugitive and forced his way in. Police say he handcuffed a male in-law and threatened to hurt him if he didn't help find the bail jumper. Alcalde then allegedly took the in-law to another relative's home where he once again forced his way in. He found the wife of the man for whom he was looking and handcuffed her as well, after she told Alcalde that she didn't know where her husband was, police say.

Alcalde allegedly forced her from the home and put her into his car to look for locations where her husband might be. When Alcalde would stop any place to look for the woman's husband, he would handcuff her and the other man to an interior door handle to keep them in the car while he was looking, police say. Unable to find the bail jumper, Alcalde released the two on a street corner.

Detectives worked the case and were able to identify Alcalde as the suspect. He was located at his home in West Jordan on Tuesday morning and taken into custody without incident and booked into the Utah County Jail. He's being held for felony burglary and kidnapping as well as misdemeanor assault, auto burglary and theft. Bail was set at $200,000. Cash only.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ebb and Flow of Bail Bond Market

There is an interesting article printed in the Maryland Daily Record regarding the changing state of the bail bond industry. The article discusses advertising practices, discounting, and the future of bail. It's worth the click.

Friday, August 22, 2008

CA-Bondsman Helps Capture Man with Bombs

Yreka, CA-Tragedy may have been averted when California bail bond agent Brett Duncan was leaving his office and noticed fugitive Mike Solano parked near the probation offices in Siskiyou County, CA. Duncan said that Solano then spotted him and drove away. Duncan called police who detained Solano just minutes later. Solano began resisting arrest and reached into his boot and pulled out a Beretta pistol. Duncan and Darrell Bourne helped police subdue Solano.

Police found a pipe bomb strapped to Solano’s leg. In Solano’s car, police discovered 15 other home-made explosives, some made with nails and BBs, 70 loaded magazines, more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition, one stolen pistol and two assault weapons, including one with a silencer, surveillance equipment, a tactical vest and clothing with face masks.

Duncan had posted Solano’s $30,000 bond which had been forfeited in July when Solano failed to appear for probation revocation proceedings. Duncan told the Sacramento Bee that it was “dumb luck” when he ran across Solano in front of the probation offices. Yreka Police Chief Brian Bowles thanked Brett Duncan and Darrell Bourne, who helped officers detain Solano. “Without their help, somebody, no doubt, would have been seriously injured or killed in this incident," he said.

Impersonator Wanted Pizza Discount

In a failed attempt to impersonate a bondsman and a law enforcement officer, Michael Roden of Louisville, KY, was arrested after he allegedly flashed a bail bond agent badge, and then identified himself as a police officer in order to get the cop discount for a pizza. Unfortunately for Roden, a real cop was also dining in the pizza parlor and arrested Roden for impersonating an officer. No charges were filed for impersonating a bondsman….probably because bondsmen don’t get pizza discounts.

(If you think I made this up, click to read the top story on WHAS-TV.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bondsman Arrested for Attempted Theft

Licensed bondsman Jackie Covey of Carthage, MO, was arrested Saturday in Dade County for attempted theft/stealing of an item valued over $25,000 and possession of burglary tools. The Dade County Sheriff’s Office also arrested Aaron Redburn. According to court records, Redburn and Covey were arrested for attempting to steal four ATVs from S&H Farm Supply. Both had bonds set at $100,000 cash only. Covey’s bond was later changed to cash or surety on the condition that the bond is made by someone other than the company she works for and that she has no contact with Aaron Redburn. According to casenet, Covey later posted bond with McBee Bail Bonds.

As reported here earlier, Covey was arrested in January of this year along with Redburn. KOAM-TV reported that Covey was seen on surveillance video returning a stolen home theatre system and receiving a gift card in exchange. She was charged with receiving stolen property and has been bound over for trial in the Circuit Court of Jasper County.

There is also an ongoing investigation into a fire that destroyed Covey’s home last May. The Missouri State Fire Marshall’s Office confirmed that the fire that destroyed her home has been ruled an arson and is an ongoing criminal investigation. No charges have been filed against anyone in connection with this investigation.

Covey has been licensed since 2003. There are no disciplinary issues before the DIFP at this time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

CT: Bondsman Says Bond Discounting is Public Safety Issue

The Connecticut bail system has been under a lot of scrutiny after a federal probe exposed corruption by officials, a police officer and three bondsmen.

In an editorial printed in the Hartford Courant, bondsman Patrick Moynihan said that discounting the state required minimum bail premiums is putting the public at risk. According to Moynihan, in Connecticut, the minimum bail premium is between 7 to 10 percent, depending upon the total amount of the bond. He said bondsmen are illegally discounting bonds to 2 or 3 percent. He opines, “With the going rate for bail bonds at a fraction of the legal limit, it is fair to assume that most if not all of these offenders were released on illegally discounted bail bond premiums. This practice only helps them return to the communities they terrorize. It creates a revolving door for violent and repeat offenders and makes bail bond companies incapable of fulfilling their financial obligations to the state.” He closed his editorial stating that commercial bail is superior to all other forms of release, but the system needs increased regulation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Federal Court Says Judges Can Disqualify Bondsmen

Back in 2006, I reported a federal lawsuit filed by several bondsmen against the two judges, a prosecutor, two bondsmen and law enforcement in southeast Missouri. Here is some background on the suit:

Tom Peak, owner of Peak Bail Bonds of Jefferson City, and three of his agents filed a lawsuit in US District Court against two Missouri presiding circuit judges, the Honorable Mark Richardson of the 36th Judicial Circuit and the Honorable Fred Copeland of the 34th Judicial Circuit. Also named were state troopers Buddy Cooper and Jeff Heath, Sheriff Mark Dobbs of Butler County, New Madrid County Prosecuting Attorney Lewis Recker, and Phillip Childress and Craig Meador of Childress Bail Bonds of Poplar Bluff, MO.

Plaintiffs Peak, Glenn Beazley of Jefferson City, Bobby Martin of Marston, and John Montgomery of Poplar Bluff, alleged in a seven count complaint; two counts of conspiracy, denial of due process, tortuous interference, slander, libel, and injurious falsehood. The complaint alleged that Peak and his agents were unfairly denied the right to conduct bail bond business in the courts’ jurisdictions based partly upon a complaint received by competitor Childress. The suit alleged that Richardson, Copeland, Dobbs, Recker, Cooper and Heath used the power and prestige of their positions to investigate and discredit plaintiffs without authority. The complaint also alleged that the injurious statements regarding Martin and Montgomery were false and harmful, and defendants intended the harm or should have recognized that harm was likely as a result of the false statements.

In December 2007, all the defendants except Judge Copeland and Judge Richardson were dismissed from the lawsuit. All of the counts were dismissed, except for one, which alleged denial of due process rights. Specifically the one remaining count of the complaint was:

“Defendants failed to use proper procedure and were recklessly indifferent to the civil rights of Plaintiffs in the following manners: a) No Missouri statute, regulation or rule provides Defendants Richardson and Copeland the authority to conduct investigations into any activities of Bail Bond Agents, revoke the license of any Bail Bond Agent, or otherwise limit the bond activity of any bail Bond Agent. Conducting investigations into the alleged activities of Plaintiff and ‘revoking’ the licenses of Plaintiffs Martin and Montgomery was outside the scope of their authority. Defendants disregard of established procedure for investigation activities into Bond Agents and acting outside of the scope of their own authority constitutes deliberate indifference to the civil rights of Plaintiffs, established under the laws of the State of Missouri.”

Both parties moved for summary judgment and here is some of what the federal court said:

1) Considering the relevant statutes, the Missouri Supreme Court Rules, and the trial court's obligation to enforce those rules, it becomes apparent that Defendants are permitted, if not required, to determine whether bail bond agents writing bonds in their courts are reputable. (Emphasis added)
2)….The Court finds that revoking a bail bond agent's privilege to write bail bonds in a judge's court or circuit is a judicial action, i.e., an act taken in the judge's judicial capacity.
3) The clear weight of authority gives Missouri circuit judges jurisdiction to determine whether a particular surety can write bonds in that judge's circuit. A judge's alleged failure to do so without an investigation into the underlying reasons or a judge's failure to give any pre- or post-revocation procedural protections to the revoked agent does not deprive that judge of jurisdiction over bail bond approval or rejection. At worst, Defendants acted in excess of their jurisdiction; and this is insufficient to deprive them of judicial immunity.

Bail bond agents have routinely referred RSMO 374.759.3, which reads, “All Missouri licensed bail bond agents or licensed general agents shall be qualified, without further requirements, in all jurisdictions of this state, as provided in rules promulgated by the supreme court of Missouri and not by any circuit court rule.” (Emphasis by court) Bondsmen have argued that this statute establishes the agents’ authority to work and a judge cannot interfere with that. The federal court said that although the state bail bond statutes do, in fact, refer to Missouri Supreme Court Rules, the reference is not in the context of amending or annulling the rules but is in giving deference to the rules. Additionally, the court said it is the trial court's duty to enforce Missouri Supreme Court Rules.

The court's entire ruling here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

DIFP Disciplinary Actions

The following licensed bondsmen paid voluntary penalties to the Missouri School Fund in order to settle disciplinary issues before the Department of Insurance.

James (Doug) Graue, Hayti, MO, voluntary forfeiture of $3,982.35 for department allegations of permitting an unlicensed person to solicit or engage in the bail bond business.

Carlin Baird, Carthage, MO, voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of misrepresentation on a bail bond license application.

Renelle Evans, Columbia, MO, voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of misrepresentation on a bail bond license application.

Hoyt Ray, Sedalia, MO, voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of misrepresentation on a bail bond license application.

In other disciplinary actions, the DIFP has refused to renew the bail bond license of Douglas Meeks of Fredericktown. The DIFP’s complaint alleges that Meeks’s license was refused because he entered a plea of guilty in two felony cases in 1994. The DIFP's complaint states that Meeks was given suspended imposition of sentencing in the cases. Meeks has been licensed since 2004. He has filed a complaint with the Administrative Hearing Commission on the matter, which is scheduled to be heard on November 14th.

The DIFP also refused to renew the license of Flay Bledsoe, of Kansas City. According to the complaint, the DIFP alleges that Bledsoe entered a plea of guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 2006 and was given a suspended imposition of sentence. The DIFP alleges that Bledsoe did not disclose the SIS on his renewal application.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AHC Issues Decision in Joyce Case

The Administrative Hearing Commission has issued its third decision regarding the license of bondsman Phillip Joyce. In the latest decision, the AHC ruled that Joyce’s license should be denied because he does not meet the qualifications for licensure under Missouri Supreme Court rules as required by RSMO 374.715.1. The DIFP refused to renew Joyce's license last year. The DIFP's order stated that Joyce's license had been refused 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 alleged that Joyce was 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 appealed the DIFP’s decision by filing a complaint with the AHC. The AHC quoted RSMO 374.715.1 which states that an applicant must prove that he/she meets the qualifications for surety on bail bonds as provided by supreme court rule. [Emphasis added by AHC.] The AHC ruled, “The felony convictions and pleas disqualify Joyce from acting as a surety on bail bonds. Because Joyce failed to submit proof that he ‘meets the qualifications for surety on bail bonds as provided by supreme court rule’ under RSMO 374.715.1, we have no discretion to issue the bail bond license.” The AHC also said, “The Supreme Court Rule is even more clear, using the language: ‘Has not, within the past 15 years, been found guilty of or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere . . . .’ The rule references past conduct as a basis to determine whether an application should be denied…….That the Director and this Commission granted Joyce’s application in the past does not affect our decision in this case, under different circumstances and different interpretation of the laws.”

The AHC had ruled on Joyce’s license on two other occasions. In 1998, the AHC ruled that the licensing provisions regarding the licensing of felons (in effect at that time) were permissive and not mandatory. The AHC ruled that although Phillip Joyce was a convicted felon, he should be granted a bail bond license. The Commission ruled 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 reason, 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 supreme court rule..... and supreme court rule 33.17(c) states that the surety has not been convicted of any felony under the laws of any state or the United States. (The Supreme Court rule has since been amended to include the 15 year clause.)

Previous Posts on Joyce Decisions:
DIFP Refuses to Renew Joyce License 7/13/2007
Joyce Decisions-Defining Bail Bond Law 4/24/2006

Friday, August 8, 2008

FL-Bail Bond Student Arrested for Threatening Obama and Bush

Miami, FL-A man attending a bail bond pre-licensing education class in Miami, FL has been arrested for threatening the lives of Senator Obama and President Bush. Raymond Hunter Geisel is being held without bail on federal charges. The Secret Service Agent’s affidavit states that he relied on information furnished by other students in the class. One student quoted Geisel as saying, “That nigger, if he gets elected, I’ll assassinate him myself.” Another student reported that Geisel said he hated George W. Bush and wanted to put a bullet in the President’s head. A search of Geisel’s hotel room and personal vehicle revealed emergency lights, a hand gun, several types of ammo including body armor piercing ammo, a machete, knives, body armor, batons, tear gas, and stun gun. Geisel had recently moved to Florida from Maine and was living on a sailboat with his girlfriend.

Friday, August 1, 2008

DIFP Files Complaint for Use of Badge

The DIFP has filed a complaint with the Administrative Hearing Commission against bondsman Michael Barton. According to court records, Barton used a badge containing the words “Fugitive Recovery Agent” to impersonate a law enforcement officer. Barton went to the home of woman wearing the badge around his neck and a gun on his right hip. According to the woman, Barton identified himself as a federal agent and demanded that she turn over some unidentified property to a third person not identified in the reports. The woman released the property to Barton and he left. She then called the Phelps County Sheriff to verify that Barton was indeed a law enforcement officer. A Phelps County Sheriff’s deputy arrested Barton for impersonating an officer. He later pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense. The DIFP’s complaint alleges that Barton is subject to discipline because he no longer meets the qualification for surety because he pleaded guilty to a crime involving moral turpitude.

Barton has been licensed since 2006 and has relocated from the Rolla area to the St. Louis area.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fugitive Recovery School Owners Arrested for Badges

Ralph Rios and Robert Neves, owners of a bounty hunter training school called US Recovery Bureau, were arrested by federal authorities for distributing badges and credentials that… “give the impression that they were issued by actual government law enforcement agencies because, among other reasons, (a) the badge is in the same shape as a New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) Detective badge; (b) the badge bears a seal with a bald eagle that is a facsimile of the great seal of the United States; (c) the badge reads “U.S. Recovery Bureau” and under the seal is the word “Agent” and a badge serial number; (d)the badge is in a leather wallet that also holds credentials that are the same shape and size as federal law enforcement credentials and identify the graduate as a “Special Agent” of the “U.S. Recovery Bureau”; (e) the credentials bear an emblem in the center of the card that is a facsimile of the great seal of the United States; and (f) the credentials lack any clear indication that they are not issued by a governmental organization.”

According to the US Department of Justice’s press release, law enforcement authorities have arrested multiple graduates of U.S. Recovery Bureau for using the credentials issued by the school. On some occasions, students have used their school-issued credentials to try to avoid tickets and other law enforcement actions. In other cases, students have used the credentials to try to access secure government buildings. In at least one case, students have used the school-issued credentials to impersonate law enforcement officers in order to effectuate robberies. Of approximately 943 students who received credentials from U.S. Recovery Bureau, at least 78 were convicted felons at the time they took the U.S. Recovery Bureau course.

Nieves is out on a $50,000 bond and Rios is out on a $25,000 bond.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Missouri Bail Association Formed

That’s right, there’s a new kid in town. In response to the legislative threats last legislative session, several bail bond agents around the state met together to oppose legislation sponsored by the MPBBA which would transfer the DIFP’s authority to a bail bond board. In order fund the new board, the bill required a new $10 bail bond tax. The group received tremendous help from concerned agents who collected hundreds of signatures opposing the legislation. The bill failed, the session ended, and the group decided to form a bail association. In June, Associated Bail Agents of Missouri, Inc. (ABAM) was formed. The association is a non-profit trade association. Bart Cooper serves as the association president, Stan Clark as vice-president, Dave Strassner as treasurer, and Angela Park as secretary. The board of directors are Tina Bozarth, Dan Mense, Stan Moreland, Mike Thomas and Jim Walker. Rick Adams serves as chair of membership. ABAM will work as legislative watch-dogs in the upcoming session and will give bondsmen and recovery agents a new choice in order to network cooperatively with their colleagues in the industry. This new, spirited association is working on other goals to improve our industry and give us all more opportunities to grow our businesses.

To learn more about this new organization, contact any of the bondsmen above, email me, or here’s a link to their membership application.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Former Bondsman Sentenced

Former bondsman Gregory Tetro was sentenced in US District Court in Jefferson City to four years probation after pleading guilty to one count of attempting to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Tetro was also assessed a $100 fine. Tetro’s bail bond licensed expired late in 2007 and has not been renewed.

Previous Posts:

Bondsman to be Sentenced
Bondsman Faces Federal Charges

Services Announced for General Agent

General bondsman Gary L. Darby passed away Friday, July 11th. Visitation will be held Tuesday, July 15th, from 4-8 pm at the Nieburg Martin Funeral Home. Graveside services will be held Wednesday at the Warrenton City Cemetery at 10 am. Gary Darby was licensed as a bail bond agent in 2003 and was licensed as a general agent in 2007.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

MN-Family Celebrates 100 Years In Bail Business

Here's a great story from St. Paul, MN. Goldberg Bail Bonds celebrated 100 years in the bail bond business. The family business has been passed down from one generation to another since 1908.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bondsman Dies in Accident

Bondsman Brian John Bender, 35, died following an automobile accident near Pleasanton, Kansas. Brian worked for Freedom Bonding in Kansas City. His companion, Amber Gust, also lost her life in the accident. Visitation for Brian and Amber will be held from 6-8 p.m. Monday, June 9, at the Park Lawn Northland Chapel in Liberty. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 10, at St. Therese Catholic Church, 7277 N.W. 9 Hwy., Parkville. In lieu of flowers, you may honor Brian and Amber's memories with a memorial donation to a fund for Brian's children, Christopher, Dawson and Kaden. Donations may be made payable to their grandfather, James W. Bender, and left at the funeral home or the church. He previously worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for the New York City Fire Department and later for MAST in Kansas City. Arrangements by: Park Lawn Northland Chapel in Liberty. Online condolences may be sent via

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

DIFP Issues Cease and Desist

The DIFP has issued another cease and desist order prohibiting Regina Muwwakkil and all those writing under her authority to cease writing bail without demonstrating to the State that Muwwakkil has a CD assigned to the State of Missouri in the amount of $25,000. The order also directs Muwwakkil to pay $544.16 to cover the costs of the DIFP’s investigation and fines her $3,500 for violating the insurance laws.

The order states the Muwwakkil’s certificate of deposit was forwarded to Jackson County Circuit Court last September. After the DIFP was notified the CD had been attached, the department gave Muwwakkil several weeks to replace it. The DIFP issued a statement of charges against her on November 1st. In December, the department alleges they told Muwwakkil that she nor her agents could write bonds until the CD was replaced. The DIFP’s order states that in December and January Muwwakkil’s company wrote at least seven more bonds. In January, the department issued a cease and desist order. In February the cease and desist order was vacated. In May the matter came up for a hearing and Muwwakkil was assessed a fine, the costs of the investigation, and another cease and desist order was issued.

Previous coverage:
DIFP Orders General Agent to Cease Writing Bail 1/5/2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bondsman Fined in Licensing Issue

The DIFP reports that bondsman Michael McMahon, of Camdenton, paid a voluntary fine of $200 for department allegations of use of fraud, deception, misrepresentation or bribery in securing a bail bond license. McMahon was licensed as a general agent in May. He has held a bail bond license since 2003.

LA-Judges & Bondsman Guilty of Bribery

Two Caddo Parish, Louisiana judges were convicted by a federal jury last week of several charges involving corruption for taking bribes to reduce bonds, recall arrest warrants and remove probation holds on defendants.. The racketeering charges ranged from bribery and official misconduct to interstate commerce. The FBI began its investigation in 2003. The operation was enhanced in May 2007 when the FBI tapped cell phones. The two judges, Michael Walker and Vernon Claville, were convicted of offenses related to taking bribes from a middleman hired by bondsman Larry Williams. Williams pleaded guilty to one count of public bribery in exchange for testifying against the two judges. Each judge faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.

According to the Louisiana Department of Insurance website, Williams' bail bond license is inactive although he holds a valid appointment with Allegheny Casualty Company.

My previous post:
LA Bondsman and Judges Indicted

Commission Worried About Housing Illegals

As reported yesterday, a bill passed this year requiring that suspected illegal immigrants held in county jails in Missouri must prove their lawful presence in the US in order to be eligible for bail. The Pulaski County Commission recently discussed the impact of this legislation on county budgets. The commissioners are worried about the cost of housing these prisoners. “They didn’t cut us any slack on per diem for prisoners, but here they are with this illegal immigration bill deal saying bail will be denied for people suspected to be illegal aliens until they can provide proof of legal residence in the United States,” Commissioner Bill Farnham said. “Who is going to pay for that? Us or the feds?” Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall said he wasn’t sure. “If they are arrested on state charges, I assume it would be us who has to pay for it,” Ransdall said.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bohrer Named Acting Director of DIFP

Governor Blunt announced that Linda Bohrer will serve as Acting Director of the DIFP.

Former Director Doug Ommen was appointed to a position with the Administrative Hearing Commission to serve as a hearing commissioner. His last day with the DIFP was May 31st.

End of Session Report

What passed and what didn’t

The legislative session ended a few weeks ago. Thankfully, the bail bond board bills did not pass. Here’s a summary of the bills and their status.

SB1247-Created a bail bond board and imposed a bail bond tax to finance the board. Never received a hearing.

HB2454-Created a bail bond board and imposed a bail bond tax. Never received a hearing.

SB869-Originally, this bill was to repeal the 15-year “Lee Clause” which allowed the licensing of felons in the bail industry, as long as the felony was over 15 years ago. The bill sought to remove the 15 year clause, stating that felons could be denied a license, regardless of when the felony conviction. An amendment was offered by MPBBA in committee. The bill died in committee.

HB1549-One bill affecting our profession did pass. HB1549 passed, which instructs the courts on bail for those persons residing in Missouri who are not legal residents of the US. The bill states that if a judge believes a person is unlawfully present in the US, there is a presumption that releasing that person under ANY condition will not reasonably assure appearance in court. The person shall be committed to jail until he/she can prove lawful presence or until the case is discharged.

Text of the HB1549
544.470. 1. If the offense is not bailable, or if the person does not meet the conditions for release, as provided in section 544.455, the prisoner shall be committed to the jail of the county in which the same is to be tried, there to remain until he be discharged by due course of law.
2. There shall be a presumption that releasing the person under any conditions as provided by section 544.455 shall not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required if the circuit judge or associate circuit judge reasonably believes that the person is an alien unlawfully present in the United States. If such presumption exists, the person shall be committed to the jail, as provided in subsection 1 of this section, until such person provides verification of his or her lawful presence in the United States to rebut such presumption. If the person adequately proves his or her lawful presence, the circuit judge or associate circuit judge shall review the issue of release, as provided under section 544.455, without regard to previous issues concerning whether the person is lawfully present in the United States. If the person cannot prove his or her lawful presence, the person shall continue to be committed to the jail and remain until discharged by due course of law.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dotson Found Guilty

Glen Dotson was found guilty today of conspiracy to commit murder and delivering a firearm to a known felon. Dotson’s trial began one week ago in US District Court in St. Louis. Dotson was found guilty of conspiring with Virgil Lee Jackson to murder competitor Gerald “Jerry” Cox. The jury reached a verdict of guilty on both counts and he was taken into federal custody. He will be sentenced at a later date. The sentence range is 10-14 years.

Glen Dotson and Virgil Lee Jackson, both formerly licensed bail bond agents, conspired to murder Cox in 2005. Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder last August and was sentenced to 10 years.

Story on KSDK 5/12/2008
STL Post Dispatch 5/12/2008

My Previous coverage:
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
Jackson Pleads Guilty 8/13/2007
Dotson Faces New charges 8/27/2007
Jackson Sentenced 11/1/2007
Jackson's Bail License Revoked 2/8/2008

Friday, May 2, 2008

Show-Me Daily Blogs About Bail Industry

The Show-Me Daily Blog recently opined about the Riverfront Times article concerning the saga of Lee Jackson and the legislative activities of the MPBBA. The Show-me Daily is hosted by the Show-Me Institute, a Missouri public policy think tank. The posts encourage readers to read the whole Riverfront Times article and selects key quotes to demonstrate the history of the MPBBA and its political agenda.

In another post on the same site, blogger David Stokes writes of his support of private bail and the US system. The blog also posted an article concerning its thoughts on professional licensing in general. Stokes thinks that the bail industry is one of the industries that should have some sort of professional registration, although is not supportive of the idea of state regulatory bodies' relationships with trade associations because as he writes, "because existing firms will always try to use political muscle to limit their competition from the outside."

I encourage you to click the links for a different perspective from outside the bail industry.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bail Agents Return Fire in Kansas City

The following report was posted on the Kansas City Star website:

Two bond agents looking for a bail jumper exchanged gunfire with a man Tuesday night inside a house in the 2600 block of Park Avenue. No one was hurt. Police said 13 people were in the home when the bond agents arrived to arrest a 34-year-old man who had skipped his court date, leaving the bond company responsible for his $2,000 bond. Someone slammed the door in the bond agents’ faces. As the agents tried to pry it open, someone inside began firing through the door. One agent fired one shot back. When police came, the home’s occupants surrendered. Detectives questioned two occupants, including the bail jumper. No charges were filed in the shooting, pending further investigation.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ommen Nominated for AHC Commissioner

Last week, Governor Blunt issued a press release announcing he had nominated Department of Insurance Director Doug Ommen to the Administrative Hearing Commission. The term will run until 2014. The nomination is pending Missouri Senate confirmation.

AR: Man Charged w/ Impersonating a Marshal

An Arkansas man has been charged with impersonating a US Marshal. According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Jonathan Horton is not licensed as a bounty hunter or bondsman, but sometimes worked as a fugitive recovery agent for a bonding company. The report states that Horton tried to have police equipment installed in his truck and had announced himself as a federal marshal to area police officers as well as the public. The judge in the case has ordered Horton detained because he is considered a flight risk by the court because of his frequent moving from state to state.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bondsmen: Helping Victims, Saving Taxpayer Money

Here's a great story from WBTW TV in South Carolina. It profiles the job of a bondsman and how that job saves taxpayer dollars and delivers accountability to the court system.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Boone County: Arrests Lead to Cash-Only Bonds

The Columbia Daily Tribune headlined a story yesterday, “Frequent arrests drive demand for cash-only bonds.” The article details the arrests two defendants in Boone County and reports the prosecutor’s move to revoke their surety bonds in favor of cash-only bonds. In both cases, the accused men had been arrested for assaulting women shortly after being released on surety bonds. The judge in the cases revoked the surety bonds posted and ordered the men held on bonds which were set at part cash-only and part surety.

The Columbia Daily Tribune has reported on several bail bond cases since the first of the year. Previously, the Tribune reported on a $750,000 bond posted in Boone County which resulted in a bond revocation and the changing of Boone County Court’s process of qualifying bondsmen who write bonds in the circuit.

CDT Coverage:
Frequent Arrests Drive Demand for Cash-only Bonds 4/19/2008
Murder Case Leads to New Bond Rules 2/6/2008
Murder Case Subject of Bail Squabble 1/24/2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

RFT: Bondsmen in the STL News

The Riverfront Times printed an article concerning the bail industry. The article reviews the history of Virgil Lee Jackson and his murder plot against local competitor Jerry Cox. The article also examines the legislative agenda of the Missouri Professional Bail Bond Association (MPBBA) and the representatives and senators who accepted money from them to change the bail laws to allow for the licensing of felons. MPBBA defended changing the law to accommodate Lee Jackson's criminal past, even though Jackson had been convicted of 8 felonies and spent 20 years in prison. According to the article, Jack Allison characterized Lee Jackson as a model employee. The article quoted Allison saying, "The whole time that Lee worked for me he was professional. He did everything the way you're supposed to do it." Jackson worked for Allison at the time he was arrested for the murder plot. Allison is on MPBBA's legislative committee and told the reporter that the association supports the licensing of felons and had no plans to remove the Lee Clause.

Monday, April 14, 2008

FOLLOWUP: Fugitive Incident Case History

I have received several phone calls regarding my post yesterday involving the fugitive recovery incident addressed by the Administrative Hearing Commission in 2000. Michael Keethler’s bail license was re-issued by the DIFP in 2005. His license is now active and in good-standing with the DIFP.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

AHC Case History on Fugitive Incident

I came across an older case which was decided by the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) in 2000. I became interested when I learned that the case involved the use of a weapon while performing fugitive recovery work. The agent involved, Michael Keethler, had his license renewal refused by the AHC for gross negligence involving his work as a bondsman. According to a report published by the Columbia Daily Tribune and the decision of the AHC, Keethler went to the residence of Larry W. Creason in order to revoke his bond. Keethler and another agent blocked the car that Creason was in and tried to take him into custody. Creason escaped on foot. The reports stated that Keethler fired a warning shot and then fired two other shots, one of which grazed Creason on the head. The police were summoned and Keethler was arrested for armed criminal action, first-degree assault, and unlawful use of a weapon and released on a $45,000 bond. Keethler later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault with injury and was placed on two years probation. The DIFP refused to renew his license citing that Keethler had committed incompetency, gross negligence, or misconduct in the performance of his duties as a bondsman in violation of RSMO 374.755(5). Keethler filed a complaint with the AHC against the department’s action. The commission ruled that Keethler had not committed misconduct by having the weapon with him. The commission said, “We recognize that Keethler had reason to believe that Creason could be armed and dangerous. For that reason, we do not believe that Keethler committed the act with a wrongful intention, which would be misconduct.” The AHC also said, “However, there was no evidence that Creason actually was armed, and he was running away at the time Keethler shot him. Keethler fired the shots in a trailer park while a number of people were at the scene. Such actions were reckless and demonstrate a conscious indifference to professional duty. We conclude that Keethler’s conduct was gross negligence, but we find the evidence insufficient to demonstrate incompetency or misconduct.”

When the AHC rendered its decision on Keethler, it published the following definitions:

Incompetency-either a licensee’s general lack of present ability, or a lack of disposition to use his otherwise sufficient present ability, to perform a given duty.
Misconduct-the willful doing of an act with a wrongful intention.
Gross negligence-an act or course of conduct which demonstrates a conscious indifference to a professional duty, and that indifference constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation.

Incidentally, Larry W. Creason was arrested earlier this week after a long pursuit in Boone County involving a helicopter. Creason was charged with possession of meth paraphernalia, possession of meth chemicals, and resisting arrest. His bond was listed at $50,500 and he was later released on bond.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Legislating Your Future

Let’s imagine for a moment that Exxon passed a law saying that everyone in the State of Missouri must buy only Exxon gas. I suppose if you wanted to continue to go to work and pay your bills, you would buy Exxon gas. What would happen to all of the other gasoline companies? What would happen to the price of gas? What would happen to the Exxon profit margins? How well do you think Exxon would pay its stockholders and company executives? You would say that is absurd, right? The state legislature would have no business granting a company the exclusive rights to sell a product or service.

Now, let’s apply this situation to the Missouri Professional Bail Bond Association’s (MPBBA) bail bills, HB2454 and SB1247. The bail association wants legislative authority to nominate members to serve on their newly created bail bond board and they want the right to exclusively provide the training of all bail and recovery agents in the state. The association also wants to double the amount of training you will be forced to take from them.

What is going to happen to the other training providers in the state? Well, they will be out of business. What will happen to the profit margins of the association? Of course they will soar because if you want to be nominated to serve on the board, you’d better become a member. If you want to continue to work, you will have to take their training. The bail association will have an influx of money to pay its directors and/or hire staff. And what about paying its executives and stock holders? Unlike most trade associations, MPBBA is a for-profit corporation. According to MPBBA’s filings at the Missouri Secretary of State's Office , there are 30,000 shares of stock available to be issued, or maybe they have already issued the stock, who knows?

Some will say that the bail bond bills do not specifically reference MPBBA, but only say “a state association”. The bail association does not have to identify itself by name to reap the harvest of legislated status. Take a look at this law regarding the training of school board members by “a state-wide association” for school boards. The law did not name a specific school board association. It didn’t have to in order for the Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) to be the sole association for school boards. And having a law requiring the existence of a state association certainly sealed its future sustainability. Plus, this state-required training became a new revenue stream for the association.

When the MPBBA sponsored legislation in 2005 to force bail and recovery agents to join “a state-wide association,” I testified before the Missouri Senate opposing this language. Forced association was a bad idea and thankfully the bill failed. This is a back-door approach to make you financially support the agenda of the association, whether or not you personally support their agenda. The association wants to buy instant credibility and wealth by passing legislation which requires bail agents to financially support the work of the association. It’s a bad idea.

  1. If you don't want a new $10 tax on each bond you write….
  2. If you do not want the association to nominate bail bond board members who will oversee your business by holding the power for the "licensing, educating, supervising, and disciplining of all general bail bond agents, bail bond agents, and surety recovery agents in this state"…..
  3. If you do not want the authority of the Department of Insurance transferred to this newly created bail bond board…..
  4. If you don't want the association to be the only provider of all bail and recovery training ...
  5. If you do not want a law requiring the existence of a bail association......

Please sign and return this petition. For those who have already done so, many thanks for your support.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Columbia Tribune Profiles Bondsman

Crime reporter Derek Kravitz of the Columbia Daily Tribune interviewed general agent George Dodge. The report details George's work in the bail bond industry, other business interests, and family life.

Monday, March 31, 2008

IRS Audit Guide For Bail Industry

I found an interesting article on on UncleFed's website. It is reported to be the IRS technique guide for the bail industry. It is designed to be used when auditing a bail bond agent and/or company. The guide educates auditors on common terms used in the industry, the way funds change hands, and common pitfalls in record-keeping.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bail Bond Power Grab

Bail Association Seeks to Strip Oversight by DIFP

The Missouri Professional Bail Bond Association, Inc., (MPBBA) is at it again this year. They have two bills floating around the Capitol this session, SB1247 and HB2454. Like past years, the association would like to pass legislation that will feed revenues to the association and require its continued existence. This year, the association is promoting a bail bond board. The association will nominate members to serve on the board. The association will have exclusive rights to provide initial and continuing education to bail and recovery agents, so your choice of education providers will be gone.

This is what the changes would mean to you and your bail bond business:

The language strips all authority from the Department of Insurance (DIFP) and transfers it to the newly created bail bond board.

There will be a $10 tax on every bond you write in the State of Missouri. This tax will be collected every time you write a bond. This tax will be distributed to pay the cost of collecting the tax and to pay the costs of the new board. There has been no published cost analysis to verify if this tax will even cover the costs for paying the board members, executive, investigative, and support staff, as well as other overhead of maintaining offices. (In Arkansas, the bail bond board tax is currently $70 with every level of government getting a cut of the tax.)

The association (there can only be one state-sanctioned association) will nominate 3 bail bond/general agents to serve on the board. A quorum to conduct business is 4 board members.

The board will be responsible for licensing, education, discipline, and rule-making for all bail and recovery agents. In other words, your competitors will be overseeing your business. There is no term-limit on the office of board member.

The association hopes you will overlook this power grab by telling you that this bill offers you a six month remission on judgments. Read the whole bill, not just the highlights published in the association newsletter.

I urge you to get involved this year. Read the bill and think about the consequences to your business. If you disagree with the philosophy of the bail association running your business through a board, I urge you to sign and return this petition. Let your voice be heard. Let those who represent you at the Capitol know that this is a flawed idea for the bail industry.

Analysis of Bail Bond Bills

Bart Cooper submitted the following analysis of SB1247 and HB2454. He owns Freedom Bonding, LLC, and Bart Cooper Bail Bonds in the Kansas City area. You can visit his website here.

Issues/concerns surrounding establishment of a “Professional Bail Bonds Board”

Overview: The bill strips the DIFP of authority to license, supervise, discipline and educate bail and recovery agents. Instead, such powers shall vest in a Professional Bail Bonds Board consisting of nine members (four general agents, two bail agents, one law enforcement officer, one circuit clerk and one public member). Members of the Board shall be appointed by the Governor.

Functional Concerns:

1) The DIFP structure for licensing, supervision, discipline & education is well-planned and substantial. The legislation sets forth no plans regarding infrastructure necessary to achieve the stated purposes. Apparently, legislative proponents assume that members of the board will possess the requisite expertise to create and maintain such an infrastructure.
2) No analysis exists regarding the financial solvency of the Board and its employees. The Board will be funded by imposing a ten dollar per bond tax on each bond written by a licensed agent. Notwithstanding the procedural difficulties in imposing and collecting such a fee, no evidence exists establishing the sufficiency of said fee. A review of other jurisdictions reveals a substantially higher fee per bond.
3) No ability to issue cease and desist orders exists.
4) No mechanism exists for policing the Board. The proposed legislation does not provide a solution should Board members act inappropriately. While the Governor may remove a Board member for just cause, no standards for just cause exist.
5) Discipline by the Board would likely be arbitrary and capricious. No standards exist for discipline. Since Board members would possess an economic incentive to discipline (eliminate) their competition, the expected result would be just that.
6) No mechanism exists for auditing Board members’ expenses.
7) While all “regular” meetings shall be open to the public, the legislation does not delineate what constitutes a regular meeting or what must be discussed at these meetings.
8) The bill requires attempted notice within 48 hours of a forfeiture being listed with the department. The language is problematic since there is no requirement that the department (assumed to be DIFP) notify the board. Additionally, actual notice is not required, only an attempt to notify must be made.
9) The bill fails to expand the 15-year felony clause to prohibit all felons from entering the bail industry.

Philosophical Concerns:

Individuals with an economic interest in reducing competition will be placed in the position to do just that. Nearly all will agree that the DIFP is a neutral party who gains no economic advantage in enforcing bail laws. Such transparency is vital to the legitimacy of enforcement. Most members of the Board, however, will benefit in seeing their competitors disciplined. Less bond agents means more bonds for the agents remaining in the industry. Thus, a clear economic benefit and an equally clear conflict of interest is present.

If you disagree with transferring the authority of the DIFP to a newly created bail bond board, please join us in making your opinion known. Download this petition, sign it and return it to the address listed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Telephone Area Code/Prefix Locator

Here's a cool tool. This website will tell you the location and type of service for any telephone area code plus prefix. The service is free.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

DIFP Licensing Actions

The DIFP has published the following licensing actions on its website:

The Administrative Hearing Commission has dismissed the complaint filed against the DIFP by John Garrett. In October 2007, the department refused to renew Garrett’s bail bond license. The DIFP’s order stated the refusal was issued because Garrett pled guilty to unlawful use of a weapon in 1996. Garrett received a SIS in the case and did not disclose the plea on his renewal application. Garrett then filed a complaint with the AHC asking for a hearing on the matter. However, he did not attend the hearing which was scheduled last February. The DIFP moved for a dismissal, which was granted by the hearing official at the AHC.

The AHC denied the DIFP’s motion to dismiss the complaint filed by Edward Loughary against the DIFP. The department refused to renew Loughary’s license, citing he had been convicted of mail fraud in US District Court in 1993. The order states that Loughary is disqualified for licensure because of the plea and for fraud and deception on his 2003 initial application for licensure. Loughary answered “yes” to the question concerning any felony convictions on his 2007 renewal application. But according to the Department, Loughary answered “no” to a similar question on his 2003 application. Loughary then filed a complaint with the AHC asking for a hearing on the matter. The DIFP filed a motion for dismissal claiming that Loughary’s petition did not set forth facts showing that he was entitled to be licensed. The AHC denied the department’s motion and the case is set to be heard on April 22nd.

The DIFP has filed a notice of dismissal against general agent Cynthia Saulmon and Afford Able Bail Bonds, Inc. The department’s dismissal states that it has been unable to locate and serve notice to Saulmon and/or her company. The DIFP's original complaint alleged that Saulmon committed fraud, deception, or misrepresentation by filing affidavits with the local court claiming real property they allege she did not own. According to the complaint, Saulmon had an investor who executed two quit claim deeds to Saulmon’s company for property he legally owned. Those deeds were recorded. On the same day, Saulmon executed two quit claim deeds back to the investor, but those deeds were not recorded. The Department alleged that when Saulmon executed the un-recorded quit claim deeds back to the investor, she no longer owned the properties. The DIFP alleged that the counties of Clay and Jackson relied on the properties which were listed in her general affidavit of qualification with the courts. The DIFP also alleged that Saulmon is subject to discipline for writing a bad check for license renewal to the State of Kansas. The DIFP asserted that Saulmon is also subject to discipline in Missouri because she was disciplined in Kansas under a similar statute and her license was revoked. The allegations were dismissed when the DIFP filed the notice of dismissal. Saulmon's license is listed as inactive on the DIFP's website.