|Manny Periu's colorful career as a bondsman may be over.|
This made it possible for the man, Joe Clardy, to knock over two more banks while he awaited trial on robbing other banks in Hollywood and Pembroke Pines.
But based on what I've recently learned about Periu from his former boss, there's reason to wonder whether Periu was as naive as he claimed to be.
"He's a character, all right," says Cathy Crespo, of Aabott & Cathy Bail Bonds, speaking of her former employee, who was arrested last week on charges of drug trafficking.
Periu worked for Crespo for about four years until, in early 2008, he went off to hunt a suspect who, after being bailed out by Crespo's agency, had failed to show up for his court date. Periu found the man, says Crespo, but he didn't bring him in.
"He got the guy to give him $6,000 -- and then he let him go," says Crespo, who adds that she had evidence including wire transfers between the two men, leaving little doubt about their collaboration. After firing Periu, Crespo provided her investigative findings to the state, but Crespo says agents with the Department of Insurance did nothing about it. "Had the state done its job the first time, they could have avoided all that happened later."
That includes the farcical adventure that Periu had with Joe Clardy in June 2008. Based on the story Periu told CBS4, he bailed out Clardy, then drove the man to a bank in Hollywood so Clardy could withdraw the money he needed to pay his bail. Periu claimed he didn't know Clardy allegedly robbed the bank while he waited in the car outside.
At the end of the video, Periu is laughing hysterically with the reporter as he says, "I drove the getaway car!"
Periu says after the visit to the bank, they stopped at a gas station, where "I got sucker-punched." Clardy fled. The bounty hunter and another bondsman eventually found Clardy -- only to again indulge the man's request to visit a bank, which Clardy also robbed. Periu supposedly didn't realize what had happened until after that second alleged robbery was complete. Clardy confessed that he was a serial bank robber and that Periu had helped with two heists.
But as Crespo points out, this story has holes in it. If Periu had bailed out Clardy, he should have known that Clardy was a bank robber. And if Clardy had already made one trip to the bank, then why was Periu taking him to the bank again -- especially since Clardy had supposedly sucker-punched Periu after the first trip to the bank?
According to the news station, Clardy allegedly robbed the banks of $20,000 -- with $2,000 still unaccounted for after his arrest.
Crespo says that since last week, Periu's arrest has been the talk of the local bail bonds industry -- although not because it was such a surprise. In November 2008 -- five months after the adventure with the bank robber -- Periu was busted for possession of ecstasy.
"He wasn't one of the well-respected bondsmen in the community," says Crespo. "He's one of those bondsmen who was going to be in the news for a story that would give the rest of us a bad name."
Periu has not responded to requests by email and phone for an interview. It seems that he prefers the television medium. In addition to the bank heist story, CBS4 did a segment on Periu in 2007. You can see that story here