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Sunday, May 17, 2009

FBI Charges Bondsmen & Clerk

According to this press release from the FBI, two bondsmen and a municipal court clerk have been indicted in federal court for altering court records. The indictment alleges that Wichita, Kansas Municipal Court employee, Kaylene Pottorff took bribes to change court records for the benefit of bonding agents Alicia Bell and Jessie Garland.

According to the indictment:

Pottorff worked as a collections officer for the Wichita Municipal Court. During a period from March 2004 through April 2008, she changed and removed data from the court’s computerized records system for the benefit of co-defendants Alicia Bell and Jessie Garland.
Pottorff accepted bribes from Bell and Garland, both of whom worked as bondsman agents, for falsifying the court’s computerized records.
On multiple occasions, Bell used fraudulently altered lists of active bonds from court records, together with false and fraudulent jail booking forms she created, to defraud her mother, Pearl Neal, AAA Bonding Company, and others.
On multiple occasions, Garland used fraudulently altered lists of active bonds from court records to defraud B&J Enterprises and Larry Hiebert, the bondsman and surety company on Garland’s bonds.

The investigation, which is ongoing, is being conducted by the FBI, the Wichita Police Department and the U.S. Attorney. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson and U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch are prosecuting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SB464 Substitute Passed

A conference committee substitute for SB464 was passed by both the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives. A late night negotiation last Monday between committee chairs Senator Bill Stouffer and Representative Brian Yates resulted in a compromise which stripped all of the bail bond language from the bill and instead inserted language directing the DIFP to conduct a study on the bail bond industry.

The language says:

During the legislative interim between the first regular session and the second regular session of the ninety-fifth general assembly, the Missouri DIFP shall conduct a study regarding its licensing rules and other policies and procedures governing the bail bond industry within the State of Missouri. The department, in its discretion, may hold public hearings within the state and permit testimony and input from surety insurance companies, general bail bond agents, bail bond agents, legislators, law enforcement agencies, officials from the department, and other interested parties. If public hearings are held, the director shall provide notice to all licensees licensed under sections 374.695 to 374.789 of the date, time, and location of such public hearings. The department shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the house representatives and senate insurance committees no later than January 6, 2010.

Previous Posts
House Passes SB464

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vinson Tells About Fugitive Incident

Bondsman Dave Vinson granted an interview with the Lake Sun Leader. After being found guilty of two misdemeanor offenses involving a fugitive recovery incident, Vinson told his side of the story.

Vinson told the Lake Sun Leader that he and another bondsman, Jason Dampier, had located fugitive Ronald Brown in a vehicle in Versailles. Brown turned onto a dead end street. Vinson said Dampier got out of the car and walked up to Brown’s vehicle, asking him to get out. Instead Brown threw the car into reverse and attempted to back over Dampier. Vinson said Dampier told him he heard the gears shifting and because of that was able to narrowly escape being struck by diving behind their own vehicle. Vinson had his Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol drawn. Brown pulled the car forward, this time over lawns, attempting to find a way out of the dead-end. Vinson said he fired off one round, shattering the back window of the SUV. “I fired at a location where I knew I wasn’t going to hit him. I hoped the sound of the gun, of the bullet, would scare him into stopping before someone got hurt,” Vinson said. With at least 20-feet now between them, Brown attempted to back up over Vinson and Dampier again, Vinson said. It was enough room to do real damage if Brown managed to strike his targets. This time, he managed to drive away.

Previous Posts
Vinson Found Guilty of Misdemeanors
Lake Sun-New Info on Fugitive Case
Bondsman Held After Shots Fired

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Two Men Plead Guilty in Home Invasion

Former bondsman Thaddeus Bibb entered a guilty plea last week in Jefferson County to charges related to a fugitive recovery incident. Bibb, two other bondsmen, and two unlicensed men were arrested in 2007 after forcing entry on a wrong house in Jefferson County. The couple living in the house, Garth and Melissa Myers, called police and the five men were arrested. Bibb failed to appear for bench trial last December and remained a fugitive until March. He was surrendered and held on a capias bond until his plea hearing last week. Four of the charges against him were dismissed, and according to casenet he entered a plea of guilty to felonious restraint, armed criminal action, and burglary. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29th.

Three of the other men, Rudolph Whiston, Brandon Morgan and Steven Morgan have also been sentenced. Last week, Rudolph Whiston pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious restraint and property damage. He was placed on five years probation. Earlier this year, former bondsman Steven Morgan pleaded guilty to felonious restraint, armed criminal action and property damage. The judge sentenced him to five years in DOC and suspended execution of sentence and placed him on five years supervised probation. Steven Morgan is no longer licensed as a bail bond agent after he let his license lapse. Brandon Morgan pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious restraint and acting as a surety recovery agent without a license. Brandon Morgan was sentenced to three years in DOC, execution of sentence was suspended, and he was placed on five years supervised probation.

Bondsman Randall Avett is scheduled to go to trial in July.

The Myers have filed a civil action against all five men, AAA Bail Bonds, and Rick Adams.

Story on KSDK
Previous Posts
Bibb Wanted for Failing to Appear
Three Bondsmen Arrested

Vinson Found Guilty of Misdemeanors in Fugitive Case

Bondsman David Vinson was found guilty of two misdemeanor offenses, 3rd degree assault and property damage, in a fugitive recovery incident in Morgan County. Vinson had originally been charged with five felonies. The Lake Sun Leader reported that Vinson shot at a vehicle, shattering the back glass. The initial news accounts reported that defendant Ronald Brown, 25, was facing multiple charges passing bad checks and driving with a suspended license. He was scheduled to appear in court. Versailles Assistant Police Chief James Burkhart said Brown had sent a 'significant other' into court for him to make an excuse why he couldn't be there while Brown was outside in his vehicle circling town. When Vinson found him, they took off in a car chase through Versailles, Burkhart said. Vinson managed to corner Brown on a dead-end street. There was yelling, Burkhart said, which prompted nearby residents to call police. Vinson fired his gun at Brown's vehicle. Vinson said that the vehicle had been backing toward him and he acted in self defense. As officers were arriving, Brown escaped by driving through a resident's yard.

Snyder's Case Dismissed

Charges against bondsman Bill Snyder have been dismissed. Snyder was charged last fall with forging a power of attorney for a bail bond executed under Ben Hilton’s authority in Camden County.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bail Bond Language in HB577

Yesterday, bail bond language appeared in the fourth bill this session. Executive session was held on HB577 and the committee voted to insert the bail bond language into an existing bill heard by the committee. The bill will next go to the full Missouri Senate for a vote. The bill language modifies existing law as follows:

In addition to the existing statutes concerning the minimum qualifications for bail bond licensure, the applicant must:

For a general bail bond agent licensed prior to August 28, 2009, the applicant or, if the applicant is a corporation, each officer of the corporation has completed at least two years as a bail bond agent and the applicant possesses liquid assets of at least ten thousand dollars, along with an executed assignment of ten thousand dollars to the state of Missouri;

For a general bail bond agent licensed on or after August 28, 2009, the applicant or, if the applicant is a corporation, each officer of the corporation has completed at least four years as a bail bond agent and the applicant possesses liquid assets of fifty thousand dollars, along with an executed assignment of such fifty thousand dollars to the state of Missouri.

The general bail bond agent shall execute an assignment to the state of Missouri in the amount of five thousand dollars for each additional bail bond agent newly licensed under the authority of the general bail bond agent on or after August 28, 2009; except that, the general bail bond agent shall not be required to assign five thousand dollars for any agent licensed under the authority of the same general bail bond agent prior to August 28, 2009.

The assignments required by this section shall become effective upon the applicant violating any provision of sections 374.695 to 374.789, and shall be in the form and executed in the manner prescribed by the department. The director may require by rule conditions by which additional assignments of assets of the general bail bond agent may occur when the circumstances of the business of the general bail bond agent warrants additional funds; except that, such additional funds shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars.

374.755 The department may cause a complaint to be filed with the administrative hearing commission as provided by chapter 621, RSMo, against any holder of any license required by sections 374.695 to 374.775 or any person who has failed to renew or has surrendered his or her license for any one or any combination of the following causes:… (2) Final adjudication or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in a criminal prosecution under any state or federal law for a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. A suspended imposition of sentence is not required to be disclosed for licensing or renewal purposes and shall not serve as a basis for denial of licensure.

(This bail language also appears in SB464. See earlier post.)

SB464 Passed by House

Yesterday, SB464 was passed by the Missouri House of Representatives with a vote of 129-15. The bill then was taken up by the Senate and they did not approve the changes made by the House. The bill will be taken up again by the House, who will recede or grant a conference committee on the bill changes. Both chambers will then have to approve any recommendations made by the conference committee.

The major bail bond provisions of this bill are:

1) The Lee Clause is repealed, but this version of the bill specifically details that an SIS is not considered a conviction, is not required to be disclosed, and shall not serve as a basis for denial of licensure.

2) Requires that an agent be licensed for 4 years before becoming eligible to become a general agent or the officer of a bail bond corporation.

3) Requires general agents licensed after August 28th, to assign a $50,000 CD.

4) Requires general agents to assign a $5,000 CD for each new agent licensed after August 28th. In this bill, the language has been clarified to exclude the $5,000 CD for any agent working before or on the date the bill becomes law.

Charges Dropped Against Bondsmen and Bounty Hunters

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that all charges against Gerald Cox and his son, James Cox, have been dismissed. According to the report, criminal charges were also dropped against Morris A. Davis and Kevin Grillion. Charges were still pending against two others, Dennis Weatherford and Erik A. Nolan.

James Cox is quoted in the article, “My father and I maintained our innocence from the beginning. Due to professionalism of the St. Louis County prosecutor's office, they saw our way."