Cynthia Cheryl Shirey booking photo, courtesy of the O.C. District Attorney’s Office
Orange County District Attorney Press Release
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release: May 20, 2011
Case # 11CF0730
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 CHARGED IN 8-CO-DEFENDANT SCHEME TO ILLEGALLY SOLICIT INMATE CLIENTS FROM ORANGE COUNTY JAIL
SANTA ANA – A bail bond agent was charged today in an 8-co-defendant scheme to illegally solicit inmates as bail clients from Orange County Jail. Cynthia Cheryl Shirey, 42, is charged with nine felony counts of violating bail license regulations by permitting an unlicensed person to solicit and negotiate bail bonds on her behalf, seven felony counts of violating bail license regulations by using a fictitious name to conduct bail bonds business, 10 felony counts of violating bail license regulations by failing to keep complete records of all business done under the authority of her license, and five felony counts of violating bail license regulations by transmitting to another person a fictitious communication authorizing the solicitation or negotiation of bail.
If convicted on all counts, Shirey faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in state prison. She is expected to post $20,000 bail this afternoon. Shirey was arraigned today and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Aug. 5, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
“These consumer laws that regulate bail referrals protect the consumer and the public from unscrupulous secret dealings. These laws protect bail clients who are in some of the most vulnerable times of their lives, as well as legitimate, licensed bail agents who are following the law,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “I wanted to commend Sheriff Hutchens for working with our Special Prosecutions Unit to keep integrity in her jails and enforcing the law.”
“These arrests are the result of an 18-month long investigation by Sheriff’s investigators working closely with our Department’s jail staff,” said Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. “The illegal soliciting of inmates by unscrupulous bail bond agents will not be tolerated in our facilities.”
“Bail agents who misuse and abuse their license to provide bond services will face the possibility of losing their license,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Let this case stand as a warning to those who would contemplate allowing any unlicensed person to unlawfully negotiate bail bonds on their behalf.”
Ernesto Perez, 36, 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 Aug. 5, 2011, in Department C-57.
Richard Anthony Arant, 28, Silverado Canyon, is charged with five felony counts of soliciting bail without a license and two felony counts of violation of bail license regulations. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison. A $20,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest. At the time of the crime, 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 is expected to be sentenced to four years in state prison as a combined sentence with two other criminal cases (Case # 09HF1568 and Case #10WF1614), for which he was incarcerated at the time of the bail bonds scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 24, 2011, in Department C-5. At the time of the crime, Campos was in custody for multiple felonies including residential burglary, driving a stolen vehicle, and possession of a controlled substance (Case #10WF1614).
Jason Anthony Gatewood, 22, Fullerton, is charged with two felony counts of violation of bail license regulations and four felony counts of soliciting bail without a license. He faces a maximum of seven years and four months in state prison if convicted. A $20,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest. At the time of the crime, Gatewood was in custody for felony false imprisonment by violence (Case #10CF1804).
Vaughn Michael Hutchins, 26, San Clemente, is charged with four felony counts of soliciting bail without a license and two felony counts of violation of bail license regulations. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of seven years and four months in state prison. The People will be requesting $20,000 bail in this case and an arraignment date is to be determined. 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, 50, West Covina, is charged with four felony counts of soliciting bail without a license and three felony counts of violation of bail license regulations. He was charged with a sentencing enhancement for a prior strike conviction for robbery in 2004. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison. The People will be requesting $20,000 bail in this case and an arraignment date is to be determined. 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, 47, Las Vegas, is charged with one felony count of violation of bail license regulations and two felony counts of soliciting bail without a license. He faces a maximum of four years and four months in state prison if convicted. The People will be requesting $20,000 bail in this case and an arraignment date is to be determined. At the time of the crime, Ward was in custody for felony attempted murder, domestic violence with corporal injury, and residential burglary (Case #10HF1909).
Defendants Perez, Campos, Gatewood, and Ward were previously charged in this case on March 17, 2011. The new charges and co-defendants are a result of additional investigation.
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 for them 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 are accused of receiving 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 is accused of permitting her unlicensed co-defendants to illegally solicit and negotiate bail bonds on her behalf with inmate in the jail.
She is accused of conducting business under the names Bail Right Bail Bonds and Bail Star Bail Bonds without receiving authorization to use those business names by the California Department of Insurance.
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 is accused of filling 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 is accused of failing to complete several of her records and failing 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 is prosecuting this case.