Posts Tagged ‘daytona bail bonds’

TALLAHASSEE — Could Florida be missing out on millions of dollars in revenue?

Pensacola trial lawyer Robert Kerrigan says state and local officials have long ignored a law that requires bond agents and surety companies to lose their licenses when they fail to pay up after defendants skip town.

As a result, the state’s court system has failed to collect judgments totaling millions of dollars, Kerrigan contends. He represents a Pensacola bondsman who claims the failure of clerks and courts to uphold the law damages competitors who comply with it.

After three years of discussion and sometimes heated exchanges between state officials and Kerrigan, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has ordered an audit to determine whether circuit clerks are correctly handling bond forfeitures. Atwater’s staff has audited one county, Leon, and plans to audit six others.

The dispute has lasted more than three years, beginning when Alex Sink was the state’s chief financial officer. Kerrigan says both officials failed to comply with state law and have allowed bail bond insurance companies to skate.

“Virtually all the statutory and regulatory control over this industry does not exist in Florida,” Kerrigan said recently. “The few honest bondsmen and the few responsible insurance companies that adhere to the law are the exception, not the rule.”

Kerrigan said the system surrounding bail bonds is “dysfunctional by design.”

When defendants don’t show up, there is no consequence to the bail bondsman or his insurance company. They have no incentive to try to find the defendant, Kerrigan said.

During the three years Kerrigan has been fighting on behalf of a whistle-blower client, the state agency that supervises bonds destroyed more than 150 boxes of judgments, leaving the state without any ability to determine how much money was not collected.

In 2009, Kerrigan filed a lawsuit in Escambia County on behalf of two bail bondsmen, alleging that five insurance companies were not paying bail bond judgments. State law requires clerks to send copies of unpaid judgments to the state Office of Insurance Regulation if the judgment is not paid within 60 days. The state is supposed to compel payment or suspend the license of the insurance company that underwrites bonds.

In January 2010, Kerrigan sought copies of judgments on file with insurance regulators.

At first officials advised him that there were more than 8,500 documents filling several drawers. Then officials said there were about 3,500 documents.

By April that year, officials at the state agency said they no longer had the documents because they had been erroneously shredded.

Kerrigan reported the destruction of the public records to Ben Diamond, a lawyer who was general counsel for then-CFO Alex Sink. Diamond asked the agency’s Inspector General to investigate. In the end the shredding was blamed on Terry Jennings, a clerk assigned to move boxes of records to storage.

Ray Wenger, longtime head of the division that handles bail bonds, told investigators that Jennings mishandled boxes of documents that should have been stored.

An Inspector General’s investigation found Wenger was negligent when he failed to exercise due care and diligence in performance of his duties. He was suspended for one day.

In the midst of Kerrigan’s battle to get the records, Sink sent a letter to the state’s 67 Circuit Clerks suggesting she needed help from the clerks to be sure Florida was collecting unpaid judgments from bondsmen.

“Working together we can ensure that all unpaid forfeitures are satisfied for the benefit of all Floridians,” Sink wrote.

Still, the problem continued, Kerrigan says. The insurance companies that failed to pay judgments were allowed to continue writing bonds.

Kerrigan has been on a crusade attempting to find someone who will crack down on the bondsmen who don’t pay judgments. In the past year he’s met with representatives of Gov. Rick Scott, Sink, Atwater, the Florida Senate and others in an attempt to get someone interested in the problem.

After Atwater ordered some audits, Leon County Circuit Clerk Bob Inzer volunteered his operation for review. A preliminary audit released to the Tampa Bay Times found no loss of state revenue but did identify instances where the clerk failed to take action against the bonding company.

Inzer said court rules provide an additional five days to act and some delays are encountered because of staff shortages and other budget constraints. Statewide budget cuts of as much as 25 percent have forced clerks to give priority to criminal cases.

Alexis Lambert, spokeswoman for Atwater, said the agency has created a process for tracking bail bond judgments received from court clerks and will seek proof of payment from surety companies in cases where they have been unable to determine whether a judgment was paid.

Since installing the rules the state has formally disciplined two of 11 agents who failed to satisfy judgments on time, Lambert said. The agents have been ordered to pay $25,794 in restitution and fines totaling $4,500. She noted that the agency only has jurisdiction over the agents, not the insurance companies.

This our 2nd year in Beautiful Daytona Beach Florida but our 1st year to Proudly Sponsor one of the Biggest Biker Events Anywhere. We welcome bikers in any of our 11 locations statewide. Helping a fellow American in his or her time of need is what we are here for. Call on us Day or Night 386-675-6924 . During this massive Celebration we will assist every Biker and his family with discrete transportation. Don’t drink and drive call us before making a mistake and together we can keep the streets of Volusia County safe for Bikers and the rest of traffic. However if you happen to get a free ride to the Jail house call us and we will help.

There Home Page says it all.
Welcome To The SOUD Law Firm – We’re Committed To Your Case
A consultation with my firm is where you and I would have a calm, informative, clear and lengthy conversation about what your legal situation is and what your opportunities and options are. I will conclude our meeting with an offer to either hire me and my firm as your lawyers or take the time you need, discuss the matter with family and if you decide to hire me, then hire me. You will not be pressured to do anything. You should be 100% comfortable with your decision. I call this the “Zero pressure + Maximum Information Initial Conference” and it is free.
Did you notice our slogan? “COMMITTED TO YOUR CASE” What that means is, we are…
Committed your legal rights (whether in regards to injury cases or criminal defense) we will closely manage your case, the investigation and its costs. We will endeavor to achieve maximum opportunity for you, be it a recovery or favorable outcome to a criminal charge..
Committed to recovering or limiting your financial losses – in injury cases we will work to recoup your out-of-pocket expenses and in other matters, such as criminal defense cases, we strive to limit fees, costs and fines.
Committed to your family’s unexpected concerns – to the extent you approve, we will explain, inform and counsel your immediate family members with compassion and detail so they know what you are going through and what will best help you cope and regain. The burden on our clients is not the only burden. Family member suffer as well. We realize that are are here to help and consider it our job to make a positive difference.
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In the face of a groundswell to remove what community members say is extravagant signage advertising bail bonds businesses in Towson, Councilman David Marks said Thursday, Jan. 17, that he was considering sponsoring legislation to ban the signage.

“I have had dozens of people talk about this with me,” Marks, who represents the 5th District including Towson, said. “It’s not just residents, it’s business owners and other leaders in government. This has kind of become the big story over the last two weeks.”

At a meeting of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations Thursday night, Marks said that the legislation to limit bail bonds businesses to one sign no larger than 6 square feet with no illumination would be submitted at the council’s Tuesday, Jan. 22, meeting if the county and the owners of Bail Bonds Inc. cannot privately reach an agreement on reducing the business’ signage.

Bail Bonds Inc. is one of two businesses that have drawn the attention of Marks and his constituents.

Double D Bail Bonds, located at 11 E. Chesapeake Ave., opened over a year ago with signage that some thought represented its name a bit too literally. Its logo is a well-endowed female figure with a “D” written over each breast. Marks also said he was “not thrilled” with that business’ neon signs, which take up much of its window space.

But according to the councilman, the need for change became more urgent when another company, Bail Bonds Inc. installed a large orange sign near the corner of East Chesapeake and Virginia avenues.

John Turnbull, attorney for Bail Bonds Inc., said the business’ owner has a permit for the signs. Even though the sign is legal, Turnbull said he’s aware of the complaints and is in discussions with county attorneys “to negotiate something everyone can live with.”

“We’re trying to stop the issue without litigation,” Turnbull said. “At the end of the day, both parties have an incentive to work something out.”

Turnbull said that some of Statewide Bail Bonds Inc.’s competitors have been the most vocal about the sign. East Chesapeake Avenue also houses A-1 Bailbonds and Elite Bailbonds, in between other office storefronts and small eateries.

“While I understand bail bonds companies may want to set up shop near the District Court, the proliferation of these businesses is changing the complexion of Chesapeake and Virginia avenues, and not for the better,” Marks said in a statement announcing the potential bill. “It was bad enough when one business decided to plaster their windows in neon, but now another has erected a gaudy sign across from a senior citizen home and within a stone’s throw of Historic East Towson.”

Marks said the county executive’s office has been in discussions with attorneys representing the Virginia Avenue shop, but Marks is prepared to introduce legislation on Jan. 22 should those talks not produce results.

The newest sign at Bail Bonds Inc. was made possible by Marks’ decision during the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process last summer to up-zone the property on Virginia Avenue from a mix of residential and home office zoning to part of the downtown Towson core. The councilman said “there was a good reason for upzoning,” citing development on the other side of the property.

But since the zoning was changed, Bail Bonds Inc. moved from a storefront on Chesapeake Avenue to the Virginia Avenue location and erected the new sign.

“There’s sometimes unintended consequences with these things, and I’m trying to correct it,” Marks said.

At the Jan. 17 meeting, several neighborhood association leaders asked Marks if further steps could be taken to limit the number of bail bonds companies in Towson.

Marks said he considered outlawing bail bonds businesses in town center business districts; limiting how many can exist within a certain distance of a library; or creating a separate zoning class for bail bonds companies, one which would require that they obtain special exemptions.

The councilman said he believes those measures may face stiffer opposition from his fellow council members, while the sign bill has a greater chance of passing as a matter of councilmanic courtesy.

The signs are a problem, but the existence of bail bonds companies in the Towson core is the greater problem, at least one community member said.

“That whole area could be a very nice business area,” said Ed Kilcullen, a former GTCCA president and resident of nearby Towson Manor Village. “It’s being taken over by bail bondsmen. We just think it’s not good for business; it’s not good for residential in the area.”

Kilcullen said the signage is “particularly egregious with the bail bondsmen, but we think there could be a lot tighter controls on signage in general.”

From a Customer of 2nd 2 none

A Lesson in the Daytona bail bonds process about to unfold

A few years ago a friend of mine called and asked what I was doing for Spring Break. I told him and he said “I am coming down to Daytona for a few weeks for Spring Break, so be ready to party!!”. Being that Daytona was the city I was raised in, I was well acquainted with what exactly was going to happen when my friends actually did arrive from NYC. In case you’re not up to speed on Spring Break in Daytona, it is a mega event that is held on the Beach every year. It is where college kids  from all around the world come to showcase their partying talent, and where thousands of men and women come to showcase their enormous appetite for drinking alcohol, picking up each other, and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. So as to not disappoint, my friend and I did pretty much of the same thing every Dubstep listening punk kid does. Little did I know that this time things were going to go down a little bit differently this time around. I was going to have a first hand experience with a Daytona bail bondsman.

The first few days of drinking were business as usual. On the 4th day however, things went a little extra crazy. I had passed out early from the days festivities (when I say early, I mean 4:00am). I was shook awake at about 4:45am from a frantic phone call from my bro (let’s call him Drizzle). Drizzle began ranting and raving about how he had been arrested at a small bar that had apparently been raided by police. He said that when the lights came on during the raid, everyone dropped their ecstasy pills and other miscellaneous drugs on the floor, and because the police couldn’t identify what drugs belonged to which person, they arrested everybody. The funny part is, D didn’t use drugs, so when he told me about this I laughed for a minute and then asked “you’re kidding right? You don’t do drugs”. After a long silence from D  said “I know but that doesn’t matter because the police arrested everyone regardless.”

The fun part of the bail process 

So I’m scrambling to find where I left my jeans and trying to decide how we’re going to find a Daytona bail bondsman and get Drizzle bailed out of the Jail in Daytona. This was all surreal to me and I was not prepared on how best to proceed with his Volusia county bail bond. I was familiar enough with the Daytona arrest process (hey I went to college too) to know that we had to find a professional Daytona bail bondsman and bail him out of jail. As always, I did my trust Google search and typed in the search phrase “Daytona bail bondsman”. I found a Daytona bail bondsman and gave him a call. Much to my surprise, he was awake and ready to help, despite the late (or early) hour. He asked me where my friend was being held and what he was being charged with. I told him that he was being held at the Volusia county jail  and the charge was “possession of Cocaine”, which is a felony. The bail bondsman explained that the bail in this instance would be set at $5,000 and in order to get my friend released, we would have to pay the bail bondsman 10% of the bail cost, or $500. This fee would be non-refundable and this is basically what the bonds man charges for his time. The bondsman also told us that we would have to put down collateral to ensure that my friend Drizzle would show up for this court date. The collateral could be in the form of a Title to a an asset such as a property or vehicle. The collateral would be forfeited for the Daytona bail bonds in the event that my friend D decided to “skip town” and not show up for this court date. So we capitulated and paid the $500 to the Daytona bail bondsman, ponied up our collateral, and alas, my friend D was free on bail.