Orange County District Attorney
Press Release, For Immediate Release: June 14, 2012
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff, Office: 714-347-8408, Cell: 714-292-2718
Farrah Emami, Spokesperson, Office: 714-347-8405, Cell: 714-323-4486
BAIL BOND AGENT CONVICTED OF ILLEGALLY SOLICITING INMATE CLIENTS FROM
ORANGE COUNTY JAIL
*Six co-defendant have been convicted and a seventh is pending resolution in this case
SANTA ANA – A bail bond agent was convicted today in an 8-co-defendant scheme to illegally solicit inmates as bail clients from Orange County Jail. Cynthia Cheryl Shirey, 43, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of violating bail license regulations by permitting an unlicensed person to solicit and negotiate bail bonds on her behalf, violating bail license regulations by using a fictitious name to conduct bail bonds business, violating bail license regulations by failing to keep complete records of all business done under the authority of her license, and violating bail license regulations by transmitting to another person a fictitious communication authorizing the solicitation or negotiation of bail. Shirey was sentenced to nine months in jail and will have her bail bonds license revoked by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) as a result of the conviction.
Ernesto Perez, 37, Burbank, is charged with 49 felony counts of negotiating bail without a license and 56 felony counts of identity theft. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 72 years and four months in state prison. Perez is out of custody on $150,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing June 25, 2012, in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Richard Anthony Arant, 29, Silverado Canyon, pleaded guilty Nov. 18, 2011, to five felony counts of soliciting bail without a license and two felony counts of violation of bail license regulations. He was sentenced to 16 months in jail. Arant was in custody for misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol and driving on a suspended license (Case #11CM01467).
Jonathan Thomas Campos, 28, Long Beach, pleaded guilty April 29, 2011, to two felony counts of violation of bail license regulations and two felony counts of soliciting bail without a license. He was sentenced June 24, 2011, to two years in state prison for this case. He was sentenced to an additional two years, totaling four years in prison, for two other criminal cases (Case # 09HF1568 and Case #10WF1614), for which he was incarcerated at the time of the bail bonds scheme.
Jason Anthony Gatewood, 24, Fullerton, pleaded guilty Jan. 3, 2012, two felony counts of violation of bail license regulations and four felony counts of soliciting bail without a license. He was sentenced to 240 days in jail and three years of formal probation. At the time of the crime, Gatewood was in custody for felony false imprisonment by violence (Case #10CF1804).
Vaughn Michael Hutchins, 27, San Clemente, pleaded guilty to a court offer July 8, 2011, to four felony counts of soliciting bail without a license and two felony counts of violation of bail license regulations. He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of formal probation. At the time of the crime, Hutchins was in custody for two felony counts of commercial burglary and misdemeanor providing false information to a police officer (Case #11CF0286).
Frank Matthew Tokeshi, 51, West Covina, pleaded guilty to a court offer Nov. 29, 2011, to four felony counts of soliciting bail without a license and three felony counts of violation of bail license regulations. He was sentenced to two years in state prison. At the time of the crime, Tokeshi was in custody for felony possession for sale of a controlled substance and misdemeanor driving under the influence of drugs (Case #10WF2031).
Mark Ward, 48, Las Vegas, pleaded guilty Oct. 28, 2011, to one felony count of violation of bail license regulations and two felony counts of soliciting bail without a license. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of formal probation. At the time of the crime, Ward was in custody for felony attempted murder, domestic violence with corporal injury, and residential burglary (Case #10HF1909).
Law Addressing Bail Bond Practices
California law prohibits licensed bail bond agents from soliciting bail business from any inmate or incarcerated person.
The law prohibits any person from negotiating the execution or delivery of bail unless they are a bail bonds licensee. Even for a licensed bail bondsman, California law prohibits bail bond licensees from unlawfully soliciting bail business from any inmate or incarcerated person.
California law prohibits any person without a bail bonds license from soliciting or arranging for the bail of another for compensation or receiving commission for a bail transaction.
Conduct by Defendant Perez and Six Inmate Co-defendants
Between Aug. 5, 2010, and March 15, 2011, defendants Arant, Campos, Gatewood, Hutchins, Tokeshi, and Ward were in custody in the Orange County Jail. During this time, Perez is accused of plotting with these six co-defendants to solicit other in-custody inmates to contact Perez to provide their bail. Perez was employed by Plotkin Bail Bonds but is not a licensed bail bondsman.
On 49 occasions, Perez is accused of acting as a bail bondsman without a license by negotiating with inmates to post their bail. Arant, Campos, Gatewood, Hutchins, Tokeshi, and Ward received payment from Perez in the form of money posted to their jail accounts in exchange for the illegal solicitations on behalf of Perez.
On 56 occasions during this time period, Perez is also accused of illegally using a legitimate bail bond license number belonging to a licensed bail bondsman from Bakersfield without the victim’s knowledge or consent. Perez is accused of using this stolen license number to log into an Orange County Sheriff’s Department database accessible only to licensed bail bondsmen to look up inmate bail information.
Conduct by Defendant Shirey
Shirey is a licensed bail bond agent who worked with Perez at Plotkin Bail Bonds. She permitted her unlicensed co-defendants to illegally solicit and negotiate bail bonds on her behalf with inmates in the jail. She conducted business under the name Bail Star Bail Bonds without receiving authorization to use the business names by CDI.
When visiting inmates in jail, bail bond agents are required to complete a Bail Bonds Visitation request form. This form is intended to prevent unscrupulous bail bond agents from gaining access to the jail to engage in illegal client recruitment. Shirey filled out false information on this form, claiming that her company had been initially contacted directly by the inmate or inmate’s family, in order to gain access to the jail to speak with inmates who had been illegally solicited as clients by her co-defendants.
Bail bond agents are required by law to keep complete and accurate records of all business done under the authority of their license to be available for inspection. On March 15, 2011, Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) detectives reviewed Shirey’s records. She failed to complete her records and failed to document how the agent or company was initially contacted by several inmates for the purpose of arranging bail.
This case was investigated by OCSD. Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701