Cameron County bail bonds companies fear going out of business
Wed, 31 Jul 2013 23:56:52 GMT —
In just a few months, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz TMs office has collected $145,000 in final default judgments owed to the county by bail bonds companies.
In 2012, the total collected throughout the entire year was just $114,000.
"So hopefully at this pace we'll go over $200,000 this year," Saenz said.
Saenz said these debts owed to the county are not being properly collected and he TMs implementing new policies to change that.
Before this new policy bail bonds companies were only responsible to pay about 10 percent of a bond. But now they are responsible to fork up 100 percent of a bond if the alleged criminal they bailed out does not show up for court. That means if their client is out on a $40,000 bond and they fail to show, the $40,000 becomes automatically due.
"Collecting debt is something that perhaps the DA that was here was not interested in but I TMm interested in it because it's money that belongs to the public, Saenz said.
They go into business and like in any other business, if you owe a debt you have to pay it, if not you go under."
Going under is exactly what several bail bonds business owners tell us is inevitable with the change.
Action 4 News reached out to four companies, all who refused to go on camera for fear of retaliation.
However, off camera, they said they already have to compete with the county's own low-percentage-bond program offered to indigent clients. This new policy will make it even harder to do business, they said.
"A bondsman shows up and literally says, let this person out of jail and if this person fails to appear in court I will pay, Saenz said. Well guess what? If he shows up great, if not, you've got to pay because that's the promise you made."
Bondsmen said their business could possibly stay afloat if they were forced to pay 25 percent of a total bond if their client failed to appear in court, but 100 percent, they said will put most of the 35 companies throughout the county out for good.
"The ones not adhering to business like principles are going to go out of business and that's going to create more business for the ones that are adhering to business like principles, so no, it's a good thing," Saenz said.
According to court documents the county is currently trying to collect debts from at least five different bail bonds companies.
Some bail bonds company owners told Action 4 News they are speaking to attorneys about the policy.