Wake County schools sue for bail bond money

April 1, 2014 10:17:38 AM PDT
ABC11 has learned 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 criminal cases against bondsmen and former clerks.

The move comes after a Wake County grand jury handed up indictments in February in an alleged scheme to help bail bondsmen avoid paying forfeited bonds for people who didn't show up on their court dates. Investigators say the money would have gone to Wake County schools.  Prosecutors allege bondsmen paid bribes to avoid paying the forfeited money. The scheme had apparently been going on for years.

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.

Two former court clerks and two bondsmen were indicted. 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.

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.

The SBI has been investigating the case since last August.

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