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

Although Missouri Bondsman encourages debate on topics of interest to the bail industry, please be aware that comments are moderated. Please observe the posting rules. No comments will be printed that contain spam, profanity, or libelous comments. Please post comments in a civil, professional manner.

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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Judgment List 3/7/2008

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 distributed on March 7th. The list is distributed to local courts via electronic means.

1) April Reeves, General Agent, Belton, MO-9 judgments totaling $10,000
2) L&C Investment Group, president-Douglas Cheatham of Blue Springs, MO, -no longer licensed-7 judgments totaling $105,800
3) Richard Kentner, General Agent, Lamar, MO- 1 judgment totaling $200
4) Regina Muwwakkil, General Agent, Kansas City, MO-1 judgment totaling $1,500

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

Saturday, March 8, 2008

VA-Slain Bondsman was Alone and Unarmed

VIRGINIA-The Richmond Times-Democrat reports that bondsman James Woolfolk was alone and unarmed when he was killed last Thursday morning while attempting to apprehend fugitive James Carr. Woolfolk was found inside a residence with gunshot wounds to the back, head, and neck. He was shot from behind.

The State of Virginia requires a firearms endorsement in order to carry a weapon while performing bail bond or recovery work. Woolfolk, who has been licensed since 2007, had no endorsement.

Prosecutors say that Carr has admitted to the shooting. Carr has been placed in protective custody in an undisclosed facility.

Among other survivors, Woolfolk leaves behind a 14-year old daughter. Funeral services are scheduled for Tuesday at 1 pm.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

VA-Bondsman Killed in Overnight Shooting

VIRGINIA- Bondsman James Woolfolk, age 38, was killed in an overnight shooting in South Richmond, VA. According to press reports, the bondsman was attempting to locate and apprehend fugitive James Carr. Police responded to a shots fired call and found Woolfolk with a gun-shot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have taken James Carr into custody after a stand-off ended this morning . He was wanted for failing to appear in court and outstanding warrants for drug charges, trespassing, and obstruction of justice.

Our condolences to the friends and family of James Woolfolk.