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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

AR-Judges Ban Credit Bonds, Use 10% Bonds

The issue of credit bonding has been ongoing discussion in Arkansas for several years. Yesterday, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that the issue has now prompted a federal lawsuit and crippled the Saline County bail bond businesses.

Every judge in Saline County signed a court order earlier this year banning credit bonding. Then earlier this month, the sheriff's office began collecting 10% cash-bonds, (called sheriff’s bonds). The 10% bonds provide a new revenue source for the county because Arkansas law allows the county to keep 10% of the amount collected as a processing fee.

Bondsman John Chism has filed the federal lawsuit against every judge in the county, the prosecutor, the sheriff and the jail chief, saying the ban and the use of sheriff's bonds on felony cases have effectively stripped his company of its license without due process, resulting in a civil-rights violation.

Financing the bail bond premium has long divided bail-bond companies and the legal community. Judges, lawmen and prosecutors often argue that suspects charged with serious crimes are sprung from jail after paying too little. There is also debate about whether state law forbids credit bonding. Arkansas law says the "premium or compensation for giving bond or depositing money or real property as bail on any bond shall be ten percent (10%), except that the amount may be rounded up to the nearest five dollar amount." The law is silent on when the premium is required to be collected.

Upset by financed premium, Pulaski County deputy prosecutor Barbara Mariani subpoenaed records to find out how three particular defendants got out of jail despite hefty bails. In 2006, a convicted killer awaiting trial on a new murder charge was freed on a $250,000 bond. She wondered how Armon Houston, who was assigned a public defender after claiming he was indigent, came up with $25,000 - the 10 percent premium. Mariani learned Houston was freed after someone posted just $3,000 bond. Records didn't indicate that the remaining $22,000 was ever paid, Mariani said. "There's no contract, no monthly payments," she said about the bail-bond records she's reviewed. So even though some companies say they are arranging financing, they appear to be just discounting the bond. That's illegal, Mariani said. This issue has prompted Mariani to ask judges on more serious cases to require the full 10 percent premium upfront.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Services for Glenn Beazley

Our friend and colleague, Glenn Edward Beazley, 51, of Jefferson City, passed away Sunday, June 21, 2009, at St. Mary’s Health Center.

Glenn was an agent and supervisor for Peak Bail Bonds. Glenn previously worked in law enforcement. He was the youngest police officer in Missouri history. He started as a police officer in Bland and Hermann, Missouri in 1976. He also worked for the Jefferson City Police Department and the Cole County Sheriffs Department. He was a Lieutenant in charge of the Cole County Narcotics Task Force. Glenn taught a concealed weapons course and was a specialized instructor for law enforcement and various agencies. He owned Monitored Release House Arrest. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and looking for arrowheads. Most of all, Glenn enjoyed spending time with his family.

He is survived by his wife Janet and four children: Katlyn, Kelly, Austin, and Haylee. He is also survived by his father: William Beazley of Jefferson City; one brother: Terry Beazley of Wardsville; one sister: Jan Shields (husband Eddie) of Alton, Missouri; two brother-in-laws: Nathan Ament and Matthew Ament both of Jefferson City.

Friends will be received from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday at the Houser-Millard Funeral Home. Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, June 26, 2009, at the Houser-Millard Funeral Home, with Joe Bonchonski officiating. Interment will follow in Hawthorn Memorial Gardens. Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Glenn Beazley Children’s Educational Fund. Arrangements are under the direction of HOUSER-MILLARD Funeral Directors, 2613 West Main Street; Jefferson City, Missouri 65109. (573) 636-3838.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Redburn Guilty of Theft

Bondsman Jackie Covey Redburn entered two guilty pleas to possession of burglary tools and Class B stealing. Redburn and her husband, Aaron Redburn, were arrested last year in Dade County for trying to steal ATVs from S&H Farm Supply. Redburn was given five years supervised probation, with a suspended imposition of sentence.

Just a few weeks before the plea, Redburn renewed her bail bond license. The DIFP and Redburn entered into a consent agreement that if Redburn was found guilty in any of the charges against her, she would voluntarily surrender her license within five days. Redburn’s license is now listed as cancelled.

Fox 2 Airs Story on Felons in the Industry

Fox 2 , St. Louis, recently aired another story concerning the bail bond industry in Missouri. The reporter interviewed Jerry Cox and former MO Representative Bob Behnen about their roles in passing the Lee Clause, which allows felons who have been convicted more than 15 years ago to be licensed as bail bond agents.

Cox and Lee Jackson were both members of MPBBA, the organization who lobbied for the felon provision. Ten months after the bill became law, Jackson tried to murder Cox. The reporter asked Cox, "The fact that somebody who sat on the board with you ended up trying to kill you - doesn't that prove these guys have no business in the industry?" Gerald Cox answered, "That's kind of the exception of the of the - the exception if you will. I did oppose that, the particular section of the bill. I was out voted."

Regarding the licensing of convicted felons, Behnen said, "We have a lot of people in prisons and when these people get out do we want to create another obstacle for them to get a job to get a good paying job, where they can provide for their families and hopefully stay away from a life of crime."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bondsman Files Suit Against Police Department

General bail bond agent Gerald Cox, and his son, James Cox, have filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Maryland Heights, its police chief, and two of its officers. The 12 count complaint alleges defamation, slander, malicious prosecution, violation of civil rights, and tortuous interference. The lawsuit was filed in US District Court, St Louis.

The Cox men were investigated and arrested last fall by the Maryland Heights Police Department after four bounty hunters apprehended a fugitive, Leah Pinion, and her cosignor and boyfriend, Lance Peabody. The two were apprehended in a hotel and were transported to Cox’s office. Peabody’s car was also transported to the office. Several months later, the police charged Jim and Jerry Cox with burglary, kidnapping, tampering with a motor vehicle, and stealing. James Cox was additionally charged with unlawful conduct as a surety recovery agent, and Jerry Cox was additionally charged with fail to inform law enforcement of apprehension. The charges against both men were dropped earlier this year.

After their arrests, Gerald Cox and Cox Bail Bonds was suspended from writing bonds in the City of St. Louis and several other jurisdictions. The lawsuit alleges a loss of income of $174,000.

The complaint states that neither James nor Jerry Cox had instructed the bounty hunters to apprehend Lance Peabody and that neither were aware that it was occurring until after it happened, and that a valid contract existed for the payment of the bond fees charged to Lance Peabody, and paid by Peabody’s mother, Arlene Taylor. A separate written contract explaining the relationship between the bounty hunter and Cox, Inc. was also shown and explained to the detectives. The complaint also alleges that Maryland Heights Police Department further discovered that the bounty hunter and those assisting him were indeed independent contractors, and that neither Gerald nor James Cox had known what was occurring at the LaQuinta Hotel until after it had happened. The complaint further alleges that no factual basis or legal probable cause existed to seek or obtain criminal charges against Gerald or James Cox for the events which occurred at the LaQuinta Hotel, nor was there a factual basis or legal probable cause to seek or obtain criminal charges regarding the contract between Peabody and Cox, Inc.

New Coverage:
Riverfront Times
STL Post Dispatch

Previous Posts:
Charges Dropped Against Cox 5/1/2009
Cox Case in RFT 12/10/2008
Cox Case in STL Post Dispatch 11/27/2008
Bondsman Charged 11/26/2008