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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Experienced Bounty Hunters Profiled

Utah-An interesting article about bounty hunting was recently printed in The Standard-Examiner of Ogden, UT. Steve Mills, who has been in the business twelve years, and Hyrum Lambert, who has been in the business six years, said that business is becoming more dangerous. Mills said that in the first few years he never had to draw his weapon, but now he must be more cautious because more people have become aggressive during pickups. They attribute some of the increased aggression to the use of methamphetamine. The team also said that they have only had to kick in one door in since they began working as bounty hunters.

The bounty hunters shared a few of their trade secrets. They said that action takes a back seat to strategy, disguises and trickery. "Especially men are stupid for a pretty face," Lambert said. He has a host of online profiles on social network and dating sites that present him as a pretty woman just looking for a nice man to date. He uses the profiles to groom the bail jumpers and learn their locations.

Read the whole interview here along with an eleven minute video.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fox 2 Airs Story on Bail Industry in MO

Channel 2-Fox News aired a story last night concerning the bail bond industry in Missouri. The report featured a fugitive recovery agent kicking in a door to look for a fugitive. Later, the report looked into the Lee Clause and its effects on the industry. The report detailed the MPBBA’s role in drafting the 15-year felon provision in legislation to allow Lee Jackson to be eligible to become a general bail bond agent The report stated “But the State of Missouri trusted violent felon Virgil Lee Jackson after he pushed for a new law five years ago. It allowed felons to be bail bondsmen. The felony just has to be older than 15 years and Jackson's offenses including two burglaries, unlawful use of a weapon and a first degree robbery were all more than 20 years ago.…So why did Missouri Legislators listen to a felon like Jackson? At the time, he was part of the Missouri Professional Bail Bond Association. According to MO records, the Association, and its members, contributed at least $1,300 to the bill's sponsor - former Missouri Representative Robert Behnen. The new law is even known today as the Lee clause -- named after Lee Jackson.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

News from Other States

AZ-Channel 5-KPHO of Phoenix, reported that bondsman Dana Schnell set up a successful sting operation to "con" a con man into custody after he failed to appear on the $70,000 bond posted by Schnell. The fugitive is accused of cheating more than 20 people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a mortgage scam.

Schnell convinced fugitive, Jeffrey Herald, that he was an old family friend and was willing to loan Herald some much needed cash to go to Las Vegas. Schnell agreed to meet Herald at his daughter's apartment then drive to the bank to hand over the cash. When they stepped out of the car authorities moved in and arrested Herald. Scnell told reporters, "When we got out and detectives pulled up his face expression was unreal. I'm sure it is the same expression as other people he conned when they found out they were not getting money."

NC- WRAL, in Raleigh, North Carolina, hosted a segment in which viewers could ask questions of Mark Cartret, president of the North Carolina Bail Agents Association. Some of the submitted questions included: How do bonds work? Is your job really like on TV? Can you carry a gun? Read the full interview here.

FL-The Orlando Business Journal reports that Florida bondsmen are upset that about $3 billion of the $787 billion federal stimulus bill will be spent on expanding the pretrial release system. “You have a private industry in Florida that doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime, and you’re going to replace that with a government-run program using tax dollars?” said Mike Snapp, owner of Mike Snapp Bail Bonds in Orlando. Debbie Jallad, president of Orlando-based Accredited Surety & Casualty Co. Inc., said dedicating more funds to government pretrial release programs is a poor use of taxpayer dollars when the budgets of other programs are ­being cut.

MN-Two Minnesota bondsmen have been charged with felony burglary and four related misdemeanor offenses for entering a home and handcuffing the wrong person. According to a report from the Rochester Post-Bulletin, the two bondsmen knocked on the door and handcuffed the man after he opened the door. According to police, the bondsmen were looking for a 26-year-old black man; however, the man they handcuffed was a 57-year-old white man. The bondsmen released the man after neighbors confirmed that they had the wrong man and the man they were looking for had never lived in the apartment.

CO-News Channel 7, in Denver, reports that a bondsman was arrested for criminal trespass for kicking in the door of a reported bond co-signer. According to the report, police say the apartment is leased by a co-signer of a bond, but that co-signer doesn't live with the wanted parties and that co-signer was not home at the time of the incident.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

MS-Seven Bondsmen Charged with Kidnapping, Robbery

Mississippi-A bizarre bail bond story is developing in Picayune, MS. The story began back in December 2008, when a bail bond agent and a convicted felon were arrested for allegedly committing armed robbery while returning a defendant to jail. According to an article in The Picayune Item, licensed agent Elisha Bourgeois, and an unlicensed convicted felon, Kenneth Maynard, robbed bail bond client Mark Harris of $50 at gunpoint after apprehending him for a warrant. The company owner, Anita Carol Pearson, said that a receipt was given for the money and the money was seized as bounty hunting fees. Investigator Donnie Saucier disagreed saying, “Any time money or goods are taken from a person by force and against their will, it’s robbery, if people want to leave receipts for their robberies, then that fine with us.”

After the story ran in The Picayune Item, four other alleged victims came forward and reported similar stories of being kidnapped, at times with the use of a weapon, handcuffed and robbed of money and belongings. In January, a search warrant was obtained and Pearson’s bail bond company, A-1 Outlaw Bonding.

In February, Pearson, six of her agents, and Kenneth Maynard were arrested. Anita Carol Pearson was charged with accessory before the fact kidnapping, felony conspiracy to commit extortion, felony extortion, conspiracy to commit grand robbery, accessory before the fact armed robbery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, misdemeanor extortion and accessory before the fact felony extortion. Bondsman Sean Bourgeois was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and robbery. Bondsman Edward Johnson Jr. was charged with kidnapping, misdemeanor extortion and conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Bondsman Mack Pearson was charged with misdemeanor extortion and kidnapping. Bondsman Kevin Spiers was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping. Bondsman Kevin Pearson was charged with felony extortion, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Bondsman Elisha Bourgeois was charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The unlicensed felon, Kenneth D. Maynard, was charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and also arrested in December for armed robbery stemming from the same investigation.

According to the most recent article in The Picayune Item, company owner Anita Carol Pearson was additionally charged last week with conspiracy to intimidate a state witness after allegedly attempting to pay an inmate to cause physical harm to another inmate, Mark Harris, who was the initial witness in the case against her. Chief Investigator Saucier said the investigation into the most recent charges against Pearson began when he was contacted by a confidential source inside the jail who told him that Pearson had asked the source to cause Harris “bodily harm.” Two recorded phone calls involved conversations between the informant and Pearson concerning causing bodily harm to the witness in exchange for money, Saucier said. Later, investigators sent in another informant wearing a wire to talk to Pearson. Allegedly, Pearson asked the informant if she was wired or if she worked for the Sheriff’s Department. According to Saucier, after the informant indicated she was not wired nor worked for the Sheriff’s Department, $100 was given to the informant in exchange for “bodily harm” to be done to Harris.

Now this is where things get really bizarre. According to the report in The Picayune Item, Pearson was taken before Justice Court Judge Nell Y. Cowart for her initial appearance. Judge Cowart reportedly became irritated that Pearson was in shackles and asked three different law enforcement officers to remove the shackles saying, “Carol is not a criminal. She’s not going to stay here another night, that’s all I got to say.” When the officers refused to remove the shackles, Judge Cowart asked Pearson if she minded that the shackles remain on as the proceedings took place. Allegedly, just before Judge Cowart went to swear in Investigator Saucier as a witness, she told him she knew he was going to tell her a lie, and then proceeded to swear him in. According to the article, Saucier did not respond to the comment by Judge Cowart and proceeded with his testimony. Judge Cowart set Pearson’s bond at $5,000. After Pearson was escorted out of the courtroom, Judge Cowart apologized to the chief deputy and Saucier for “bucking the system."

When I read the news report, I was so stunned by the judge's bias and partiality toward a litigant and disrespect toward a witness, I decided to look up Judge Cowart’s history. She was re-elected to her present position in 2007 in an unopposed election. In 2006, Judge Cowart was issued a public reprimand, suspended for 30 days, and fined by the Mississippi Supreme Court for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct for Mississippi Judges. The court held that Judge Cowart committed misconduct by having ex parte communications with parties to a criminal case and ticket fixing.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

KC Couple Allege Forced Entry on Wrong House

KCTV-Channel 5, of Kansas City, reported that three bounty hunters kicked in the wrong door in the middle of the night last week. According to the report, Brandon Conner, his wife and four children said that three men claiming to be police pounded on the door of their house while Conner called 911. Conner said the men then kicked down the door, searched through the house and then quickly left.

According to the report, the bounty hunters were looking for a fugitive who lived at the address four months earlier. Police say the bounty hunters represented ASAP Bail Bonds, Inc. The report does not identify the three men and whether they were licensed.

ASAP Bail Bonds, Inc. is a licensed bail bond corporation. According to Missouri Secretary of State’s website, the president is Raymond Plante, a licensed bail bond agent. The secretary is John Garrett, who is not licensed according to DIFP online records. ASAP is qualified in the 16th Circuit to write bonds under Roche Surety and Casualty Co, Inc.

The Conners said they want stricter laws to avoid mistakes like this one and an apology.