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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hearing Held: Block Bail Bonds and Moran

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed another article today concerning a hearing held yesterday regarding the of the actions of Block Bail Bonds and pretrial commissioner Mary Catherine Moran. Block’s company was banned Friday from doing business in St. Louis Circuit Court, pending an investigation into unexplained changes in judges' orders. Judge Garvey said his order banning Block is subject to approval from Dowd, the presiding judge. Judge David Dowd has created a committee to examine actions by Moran and bondsmen. The committee will meet on February 3rd.

Moran and her staff make bail recommendations to judges but are not empowered to set bail in felony cases or make changes. The P-D article says that in at least 8 cases, Moran’s office made the changes to bonds without a judge’s approval. In all eight cases, Block’s company wrote the bonds.Moran attended the hearing, as Garvey had requested, but did not testify and there is no report that Moran has been suspended during the investigation.

Friday's hearing was for the sentencing of Jimmy Gibson, convicted Oct. 23 in Garvey's court of possession of a controlled substance. Garvey had set a bond of $50,000 in cash or property after Gibson was convicted and before his sentencing. The judge insisted Friday that he was "very clear" about the conditions. A week later, a Block agent, Daryl Spector, posted a secured bond and Gibson was released from jail after his fiancée paid a $5,000 fee. No record of the bond modification was put into Gibson's court file until the Post-Dispatch began asking questions earlier this year. On Jan. 8, Moran produced a copy of an order authorizing the change, and said Garvey had authorized it by phone. He has since insisted that he did not. Gibson's fiancée, Latrice Ladell testified Friday that a Block agent named Hazel Hammers Varnon told her she could pay 10 percent to get him out. Ladell said she was "surprised," because she knew the bond was set for $50,000 in cash. She said Spector met her at the courthouse, accepted the $5,000 and wrote the bond. Varnon was not called to testify.Spector told the court he first heard about the case when his general agent, Barry Block, asked him to write the bond and told him the amount to charge. Garvey asked, "You had no idea about the background of this bond?" Spector replied, "No, sir." He said the papers were prepared in Moran's office. Court documents show that she signed it."There is something going on here," Garvey said. "It is clear from this woman's testimony that the company knew the bond was going to be changed (before it was). This court wants to find out what happened in this case."

Block's lawyer, Nick Zotos, protested that the move and said that if the bond did not meet requirements, it was the fault of pre-trial release commissioner Mary Catherine Moran's office for accepting it. Zotos vowed to appeal.

STL-PD Article here.

7 comments:

  1. Wow... Can you say "kick-back"?

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  2. I guess the question that needs to asked is why is the Bail Bonds Business so corrupt in Mo?

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  3. And we all wonder what is happening to our buisiness. Because of these kind of unlawful practices, Honest folks are suffering. Because of the greedy generals who flood a market with way too many agents in the same area, It`s not fair for those agents who are starving while thier general is living large. They promise them liberty and all they get is frustration and poverty.

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  4. Perhaps my comment was a bit misconstrued, what I am saying is, there are a few general agents so consumed by greed that they resort to unlawful buisiness practices and put so much pressure on an area by over agenting an area, their own agents begin to display cannibalization among each other fighting and backstabbing each other for what few bonds there are, It continues to spread outward towards other local agents that work for other companies. This pressure breeds competition so fierce that it sometimes results in a situation like the Cox attempted murder plots especially in larger cities.

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  5. I am glad to see that somebody is finally caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The shameful thing is that there are other general's in this state still think they will not get caught. I am a private investigator and I happen to write bonds (not many) in this state. I agree with the person who stated that greedy general's flood the market with agents but let's not forget the one's that are rebating and discounting bonds to keep the honest bondsman broke....When will the state crack down on them too....

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  6. This is soooo sad, wonder how many more are being investigated...I'm so sick and tired of our corrupted system! I bet she retired/never served any time for this crime...wonder who's palms were greased to get Moran out of this one...SMH...white collar criminals!!!

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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.

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