BAIL BOND AGENT PLEADS GUILTY IN ILLEGAL JAIL SCHEME
SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA – A 43-year-old bail bond agent was sentenced to nine months in jail and will have her license revoked after pleading guilty Thursday to illegally soliciting jailed clients in a scheme that involved seven co-defendants – six of them inmates, authorities said.
Cynthia Cheryl Shirey, who pleaded guilty to four felony violations of bail license regulations, worked at Plotkin Bail Bonds with one of the co-defendants, Ernesto Perez, 37, of Burbank, to carry out what authorities have described as one of the biggest such cases in Orange County.
Shirey allowed her unlicensed co-defendants to illegally solicit and negotiate bail bonds on her behalf with inmates at the Orange County Jail, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Shirey, of Brea, also conducted business under the name Bail Star Bail Bonds without receiving authorization to use the business name by the California Department of Insurance, which licenses bail bond agents.
Perez is out of custody on $150,000 bail and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing June 25. He has been charged with 49 felony counts of negotiating bail without a license and 56 felony counts of identity theft.
According to prosecutors, Perez plotted with six inmates between Aug. 5, 2010, and March 15, 2011, to solicit other in-custody inmates to contact him to provide their bail. Although he worked at Plotkin Bail Bonds, Perez was not a licensed bail bondsman, according to the news release.
Perez is accused of using a stolen bail bondman license to access inmate information and of posting money to the jail accounts of the six inmate co-defendants in exchange for the illegal solicitation of clients.
The District Attorney’s Office provided the following information about the six inmate co-defendants – all of whom have been convicted in the scheme:
•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.
•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.
•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.
•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 for which he was incarcerated at the time of the bail bonds scheme