Former bond agent gets jail time

bond agent

Bail bondsmen act as sureties to make sure their clients get out of jail in the quickest manner possible. But what happens when a bondsman is the one who finds herself behind bars?

Jessie Garland knows the feeling. She was arrested for—and plead guilty to—bribing a court collections officer to change bond records. On Friday, December 17 she was sentenced to a year and one day in jail.

Those prosecuting Garland claimed that she and another bond agent bribed a court officer to change records for some of their clients who had skipped bail. This kept the agents from having to pay off their surety bonds to the court. Officials estimated the city’s loss to be nearly $470,000.

According to a story by the Associated Press, at her trial Garland admitted knowing the significance of her actions, but that she committed the crime in the interest of her clients. “My intention was to help as many people as I could because I knew how it felt to be afraid to go to court,” she said.

Avoid dishonest surety providers

Our authors frequently write guest posts for other blogs, and we often advise readers to inquire into the bonded status of a professional to ensure his or her reliability. But what do you do when the professional that you’re working with is a surety bond specialist?

  1. Check to see if the surety provider is licensed to do business in your state.
    From time to time we get complaints from disgruntled professionals who have worked with a surety provider that was never licensed to work in the state in which the bond was issued. Essentially this means that the bond is null and the principal will have to undergo the bonding process again through a provider that is licensed to execute bonds within the jurisdiction. SuretyBonds.com is a surety bond producer that is licensed to execute bonds nationwide.
  2. Look into the provider’s professional record.
    Try searching online for the surety’s work record. If the surety is a major nationwide provider and has been involved with any inappropriate behavior, it’s likely been reported online. You can also determine how long the provider has been operating as a business in your state. You can also look into the owner’s professional record once you determine under whose name the business operates.
  3. Validate the agency’s authenticity
    Contrary to popular belief, checking into a provider’s status as a member of the Better Business Bureau may not be the most accurate way to validate an agency’s authenticity, as the basic condition required to join the organization is simply paying a membership fee. A more accurate way to validate the legitimacy of a surety provider is to contact the Surety & Fidelity Association of America, which keeps a record of valid surety bonds. If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of a bond you have purchased, contact the SFAA to determine its standing. You can also contact the SFAA to determine whether a surety provider is associated with the organization.

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