Indictments in alleged Wake County bail bond scheme

Officials say nearly $1 million destined for Wake County Schools never got there.
February 25, 2014 3:55:20 PM PST
A Wake County grand jury has handed up indictments in an alleged scheme to help bail bondsmen avoid paying forfeited bonds for people who didn't show up on their court dates.

Two former court clerks and two bondsmen were indicted Tuesday.

Kenneth Vernon Golder II and James L. Perkins are charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, accessing a government computer, altering court records, and misdemeanor bond violation. Golder faces an additional charge of misdemeanor unlicensed bail bonding.

Former court clerks Kelvin Lawrence Ballentine and Latoya Tanisha Barnes are charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, accessing a government computer, and altering court records.

Investigators say the money would have gone to Wake County schools, and totaled nearly $1 million.

The SBI has been investigating the case since last August, when Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby requested agents look into it.

When someone is arrested, they often have to post a bond to get out of jail before their trial. They either have to come up with the cash themselves, or they can pay a bail bondsman a non-refundable fee to post the bond for them. If the person later doesn't show up for court, the bondsman forfeits the full amount of the bond.

But prosecutors allege in Wake County bondsmen paid bribes to avoid paying forfeited bonds. The scheme had apparently been going on for years.

While the criminal cases are being worked by the SBI and DA's office, Wake County Public Schools attorney Rod Malone told ABC11 he will be working in civil court to recover the money and fines and penalties to the tune of a total of about $1.5 million.

"We've been working on this since September or maybe earlier with their office reviewing our files, trying to determine what we've received and didn't receive, and just working closely with them for some period of time to make sure we recover every dime that we're due," said Wake Public Schools attorney: Rod Malone.

Sources told ABC11 that the investigation by the SBI is far from over - in fact, after six months it's widening. More charges are expected in the coming weeks.

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