Clerk pleads guilty in Wake County bail bonds case

A mother's love and desire to help her son leaves her out of a job and on probation.
May 9, 2014 2:20:49 PM PDT
A former Wake County court clerk pleaded guilty Friday to altering court records in a deal that will keep her out of jail.

That's because it was Latoya Barnes confessed and is helping in the investigation of the much bigger fraud ring that cost Wake County Schools $1 million in bond forfeitures.

After first telling the SBI she didn't know about the other case, Barnes called them back to say she too had done something wrong. She admitted altering court records that kept bondsmen from having to pay more than 27,000 in forfeited bail.

People who are arrested can pay a bondsman a percentage of their bail to get out of jail.

However, if they don't show up for court, the bondsman must pay the full amount of bail to the courts, which then turns it over to the local public school system.

One former clerk is accused of accepting cash bribes for making $1 million in forfeitures go away.

Barnes didn't eliminate forfeitures for cash, but to get her drug addicted son out of jail. So the judge agreed to the plea deal that suspended up to 15 months in prison for the 41-year old.

Instead she will be on two years of supervised probation for altering court records.

"I just want to apologize for my actions," said Barnes. "My motherly instincts basically got the best of me and clouded my judgment. Under normal circumstances nothing like that would have ever occurred."

As a condition of her plea deal, Barnes must continue to cooperate with investigators in the much bigger bail bond fraud case that is still pending here.

Meanwhile, the case against another court clerk and two bail bondsmen indicted in the larger scheme remains.

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 clerk Kelvin Lawrence Ballentine is 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.

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

The Wake County Public School System has filed legal actions against bail bond insurance companies to recover about a little over $1 million in bond forfeitures related to the cases.

An attorney for the school system said 316 individual motions have been filed to reclaim the money related to orders that were electronically granted by Ballentine. In addition, WCPSS is also seeking monetary sanction and interest. Some of the orders date back to 2008, and the district is asking for 8 percent interest.


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