Posts Tagged ‘florida 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.

Many people are still unaware of what bail bonds actually are. For all of those who didn’t know, these are used to bail an accused person out of custody, before the hearing of their trial. A sum of money is paid as the ‘bail’, if accepted by the court, and the accused is released from custody with the promise of showing up in court and presenting themselves in front of the jury for a hearing and a verdict about their case.

There are several kinds of bonds that are used for different situations. You will need to match your situation and your criminal record at times, to determine which kind is applicable to you. When it comes to the cost of the bail bonds themselves, you should know that there are several factors that affect the cost of them. The cost of a bail bond is never fixed, and is bound to vary. The factors that affect the cost include the state you live in; since states set different prices for bail bonds, while some completely disallow them altogether, the amount that is to be paid for the defendants bail, the use of a bail agent (since the agents fee will have to be included into the total cost of the bail at the end), the flight risk of the defendant (the higher the flight risk, the higher the bail), and whether you will use your credit card or take a loan to pay (which has interest payments), or choose to pay cash up front (which will have no additional cost).

As mentioned before, when you opt for an agent to help you with the bail out process, the agent will need to be paid a fee for the services he/she is offering you. The fee is not refundable and can cost about 15% of the face value of the bond. This percentage is subject to variation depending on the state that you reside in. The services that the bail bondsmen will offer you include the entire bail out process paperwork and procedure, and getting the defendant through the judicial process as well.

Besides that, sometimes you might incur some other costs that will add to the total cost of the bail bond and the bail out process. One example of such a cost might be the sheriff’s cost. This is estimated to be around $10. When using your bail bond you should be aware of the fact that the insurance company, which finances your bail, will charge a fee as well and that might be anywhere between 10%-15% of the face value of the bond. If the bail bond is funded through any other means, the insurance cost will not have to be paid in that case.

There are times when collateral must be secured against a bail. If the accused fails to present themselves before the court on the date of their hearing, there is a risk of losing the collateral that has been secured, or the bail amount paid for the bail out. Apart from this cost, the bail bondsman will also charge you a fee for tracking down the defendant who fled. If the accused agrees to comply, you will be returned your collateral or bail money.

If you want to find out more about bail bonds in Florida, you should take a look at 2nd 2 None bail bonds. This website will have all the information you need to know about bail bonds. To find out more, visit


The only thing that sets one bail bondsman apart from the next in the consumer’s eye is marketing. Courts and state law dictate the procedure. Even the price you charge is controlled by the state. In addition, laws differ among states and jurisdictions regarding what bail bondsmen can and cannot do, which makes matters more complex. To be successful in the competitive bail bonds business, you often need to be creative.

Name and Mascot
If you look around, you might see some crime-related monikers on the market, such as Goodfellas Bonds, or some practical but boring names such as Anytime Bonds. When you’re choosing a name for your bail bondsman business, be more creative. For example, you could choose the name “Freebird” Bonds and use a cartoon bird as your mascot. Or you could follow the example of Bad Boys Bail Bonds and use a “mama” mascot, similar to the Martin Lawrence character “Big Momma.”
Create a Website
Taking out a Yellow Pages advertisement is no longer good enough in many cases to market your bail bondsman service. People are often not home when they receive a call that a loved one has been arrested. They want immediate access to information on whom to call and will use their cellphones if they can to search for bail bondsmen. If you do not have an online presence, you would miss out on this market. Your website can explain how the bail bond procedure works and how to contact you.
Shoot a Video
Catch people’s attention with a video on your website. Many people are confused and frightened when dealing with a loved one in jail. Post a video that shows your personality on your website. Do this by shooting a video of a standard interview of you explaining the process in a reassuring way or by creating a “webisode” that could feature a person in the position of learning a loved one has been incarcerated, all the way to bailing him out.
Guerilla Marketing
Guerilla marketing, from the term guerilla warfare, involves using irregular or innovative, low-cost ideas to surprise people and catch their attention. People who use it think outside the box to come up with unconventional ways to create buzz. Jay Conrad Levinson, author of several guerilla-marketing books, says that you need to be committed to your guerilla-marketing efforts to be successful. You also need to be consistent to give people time to trust you and confident enough to earn the public’s confidence. Bad Boys Bail Bonds uses guerilla marketing by having a group sit behind players’ benches at the San Jose Sharks hockey games. The group wears neon T-shirts that advertise the bail bond company.
Know the Law
Make sure you know the laws in your jurisdiction or you could be arrested, necessitating your own bail bondsman. A Santa Ana, California, bond agent was arrested in 2010 for soliciting attorney referrals and mass mailing fliers to an Orange County jail. Both actions are illegal in California.

A Shreveport bondsman found himself behind bars on Wednesday after a man in his custody was brought to jail with injuries, said Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator.

Gregory Johnson told deputies that on November 2 he was picked up by bondsman Darren Cowthorn and another man for failing to make a $400 payment. After an exchange of words, Cowthorn handcuffed Johnson behind his back and put him in the rear seat of his truck. On the way to jail, Johnson said the other man, who was the front seat passenger, began striking him repeatedly in the face and head. Cowthorn did nothing to stop it, he said.

When they arrived at the jail, Cowthorn took Johnson inside. Deputies observed Johnson’s injuries and told Cowthorn that his prisoner needed a medical evaluation before he could be booked. Cowthorn left, taking Johnson with him. Johnson was returned home and sought medical treatment the following day.

An investigation by Caddo Sheriff’s Detective Terry Richardson identified the second suspect as Cowthorn’s cousin, Valandor Cawthorn (correct spelling), 30, of the 2900 block of Salem Drive. Both suspects turned themselves in Wednesday on warrants obtained by Detective Richardson.

Valandor Cawthorn was booked into Caddo Correctional Center for second-degree battery. Darren Cowthorn, 41, of the 6900 block of Quillen, was arrested for being an accessory to second-degree battery.

A deal struck Tuesday in Dauphin County court will save the embattled license of a midstate bail bondsman.

The short version is that bondsman James Fabie will pay $3,500 to settle a dispute over a $25,000 bail forfeiture for a client who went on the lam.

It helped that Fabie was able to track down the alleged bail jumper, a drug case defendant named Rudolf Zigray, and arrange for his delivery to the doorstep of the courthouse.

Fabie’s bondsman license was placed at risk when he initially refused to pay up on the bail bond after Zigray didn’t show for a court hearing.

But the circumstances of the case were a bit odd.

Zigray was arrested by state police in connection with a drug probe in Penbrook last year. He was charged with receiving FedEx shipments from Colorado that contained around 5 pounds of marijuana.

When Zigray didn’t show for his preliminary hearing, a bail forfeiture action was filed. Fabie didn’t pay, so the district attorney’s office in May issued a rare petition seeking to pull his bondsman’s license.

As the dispute heated up, defense attorney Karl Rominger cited a quirk in the case. He noted that even though Zigray didn’t appear for his preliminary hearing, District Judge James A. Lenker dismissed the drug counts, citing lack of jurisdiction.

The charges were later reinstated by county President Judge Todd A. Hoover, who ordered a bail forfeiture.

A court hearing on rescinding Fabie’s license was postponed in August after Rominger questioned whether Lenker’s action invalidated Fabie’s original bail obligation for Zigray.

The agreement that was struck to resolve licensing action against Fabie was aired before Hoover on Tuesday.

It hinged in large part on Fabie’s successful efforts to track down Zigray and turn him over to the authorities, First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo said.

Still, Chardo said the case did cause the county to “expend some resources,” so Fabie must pay the $3,500 before the license revocation action is dropped.

Rominger said Fabie took the deal because it makes financial sense.

“Even if we prevailed [in a court battle] we would have spent more in legal fees,” he said. “This is a graceful way for both sides to exit.”

surety bond is a contract among at least three parties:

  • The obligee – the party who is the recipient of an obligation,
  • The principal – the primary party who will be performing the contractual obligation,
  • The surety – who assures the obligee that the principal can perform the task

European surety bonds are issued by banks and are called “Bank Guarantees” in English and “Caution” in French. They pay out cash to the limit of guarantee in the event of the default of the Principal to uphold his obligations to the Obligee, without reference by the Obligee to the Principal and against the Obligee’s sole verified statement of claim to the bank.

Through a surety bond, the surety agrees to uphold — for the benefit of the obligee — the contractual promises (obligations) made by the principal if the principal fails to uphold its promises to the obligee. The contract is formed so as to induce the obligee to contract with the principal, i.e., to demonstrate the credibility of the principal and guarantee performance and completion per the terms of the agreement.

The principal will pay a premium (usually annually) in exchange for the bonding company’s financial strength to extend surety credit. In the event of a claim, the surety will investigate it. If it turns out to be a valid claim, the surety will pay it and then turn to the principal for reimbursement of the amount paid on the claim and any legal fees incurred.

If the principal defaults and the surety turns out to be insolvent, the purpose of the bond is rendered nugatory. Thus, the surety on a bond is usually an insurance company whose solvency is verified by private audit, governmental regulation, or both.

A key term in nearly every surety bond is the penal sum. This is a specified amount of money which is the maximum amount that the surety will be required to pay in the event of the principal’s default. This allows the surety to assess the risk involved in giving the bond; the premium charged is determined accordingly.

Surety bonds are also used in other situations, for example, to secure the proper performance of fiduciary duties by persons in positions of private or public trust.

Annual US surety bond premiums are approximately $3.5 billion. State insurance commissioners are responsible for regulating corporate surety activities within their jurisdictions. The commissioners also license and regulate brokers or agents who sell the bonds.

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – When tracking down a person who has missed a court date, Melody Celec says it helps to know as much about where they live and work, and who they know.

Celec, the owner of A Way Out Bail Bonds, says that’s why Facebook is a useful tool for the bounty hunting trade.

“We noticed that it was just such a social media, and so many people know so many people,” said Celec.

Her business has had a Facebook profile since 2010, posting mugshots and information on people who have jumped bail and seeing if anyone responds.

“People would actually call us and say, ‘Hey, is there a reward for this guy? I’ve seen him over in the Cape,’” Celec says.

She and others in the business say Facebook is not just a good place to get tips.

As more people use it to log in anywhere they go, agencies can use it to track someone’s whereabouts.

At Sophia’s bail bonds, using social media is not a common practice, but agent Johanna Tortosa says late last year, the company used it to locate a defendant.

The man updated his profile as he moved around and revealed it each time he posted.

“We realized that we get results, so we hope to use this more in the future,” says Tortosa.

When all else fails though, Celec says the internet can help reach out to the suspect.

“We had one gentleman last year who said, ‘I see that I’m up on your Facebook, I’m ready to turn myself in. I’m tired of running,’” says Celec.

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.
Committed to your “One Shot” opportunity – We will be an aggressive and zealous advocate for YOU. Our role will be to develop and present all evidence and argument in support of YOUR position. It is our belief that it is our job to advocate and forcefully argue your case to “the other-side”, to the other attorney and before the judge and jurors.

When David Hasselhoff’s ex, Pamela Bach, got arrested on DUI the Hoff rushed out and paid her bail of $100,000. That’s a lot of dough. But not as much as loanmoan Al Malnik forked out to get Michael Jackson back into the open air: $3 million.

A mere pittance, British billionaire banker Julius Meinl IV will tell you, compared to what he had to post after being arrested by the Austrian authorities in connection with the collapse of value of the investment fund managed by his Meinl Bank: a world record $133 million bail.