Scott Israel Has Taken $13,700 From Bail Bondsmen; What Do They Want in Return?

Categories: Politics
wayne-spath.jpeg
brandybailbonds.com
Wayne Spath, Israel's friend and supporter.
Previously: Israel vs. Granteed in fundraising.

Scott Israel's campaign for sheriff this year has taken heavy contributions from some of the least glamorous enforcers in the chain of justice: bail bondsmen from Miami to Jacksonville. Thirty-eight of them, to be exact, shelling out $13,700 for the primary election alone.

Chumming around with bail bondsmen has earned Israel criticism in the past. During the 2008 election, in which he unsuccessfully challenged Al Lamberti, he took $500 from a bail bond agent named Wayne David Collins. Collins, arguably the most powerful bondsman in South Florida, had gotten in trouble with the law in the '80s for throwing around his influence in the Mob town of Providence, Rhode Island. He had his criminal record expunged so he could get a bail bondsman's license. The Miami New Times ran a hell of a story on him back in 2004.

Collins' companies also allegedly gave thousands to the Common Sense Coalition, which supported Israel in 2008 (and which, for you history buffs, took in $160,000 on Israel's behalf from two of Scott Rothstein's partners, while Rothstein continued to pump money to Lamberti).

Israel says Collins isn't supporting him this time around -- though the agency Collins started, Universal Bond, has given the $500 maximum to Israel's primary campaign this season. But it's worth a look into why, exactly, a potential sheriff might be getting so friendly with bail bondsmen in the first place.

When an accused criminal is awaiting trial, he can be released on bail. If he's unable to pay, he can go to a bail bondsman, who will front the money in exchange for 10 percent of the bail amount, usually. It's then the bondsman's (and his insurer's) money on the line if the suspect doesn't show up to trial.

Bondsmen's livelihood depends on a steady flow of arrested people -- and it's the sheriff who rounds them up. It's also the sheriff who runs the county jail, which is the alternative to being released on bond. Across the country, bondsmen have been caught colluding with judges, prosecutors, and yes, sheriffs to arrange an optimal flow of would-be inmates through their doors.

This is where it gets ugly: Bail bondsmen also have an interest in who gets arrested. They don't have much interest in a sheriff or police department making high-level corruption or white-collar crime arrests, because those people won't have a problem posting bail by themselves. The bond industry is one that thrives on lower-income people, who are more likely to be arrested for theft, violent crimes, or drug use. Bondsmen have an interest in more of these street-level arrests being made. So it can make you wonder: What are 38 bondsmen who open their checkbooks for one sheriff's candidate in particular expecting, exactly, in return?

Israel says that Collins has been ill recently and has not been up to supporting or financing his campaign. But he does say the bail bond contributions are due to longstanding friendships, in particular one with another South Florida bail titan, Wayne Spath of Fort Lauderdale. Spath is a politically involved figure and prolific bondsman with the firms Marwayne Inc. and Brandy Bail Bonds. Spath, as well as each of those two companies, has donated $500 to Israel's primary campaign.

Spath was featured in a 2008 New York Times story about the bail bond industry as a uniquely American brand of for-profit justice. An excerpt:
Wayne Spath is a bail bondsman, which means he is an insurance salesman, a social worker, a lightly regulated law enforcement agent, a real estate appraiser -- and a for-profit wing of the American justice system.

What he does, which is posting bail for people accused of crimes in exchange for a fee, is all but unknown in the rest of the world. In England, Canada and other countries, agreeing to pay a defendant's bond in exchange for money is a crime akin to witness tampering or bribing a juror -- a form of obstruction of justice.
More recently, Spath's cat Mama was fatally attacked outside his office by a pit bull belonging to an octogenarian who made last week's installment of Mug-Shot Friday.

At last check, Lamberti took financial support this year from 17 bail bondsmen or companies, and Israel's primary contender, Louis Granteed, didn't have any. Perhaps the bail industry has simply betting on who it thinks will win in November.




Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
10 comments
BradMindS
BradMindS

And what is illegal about taking $13,700 from Bondsmen?   It’s illegal under Florida Law for a police officer to take a gift.  It’s a felony yet  Al Lamberti’s top BSO officer took Super Bowl tickets and a ride in a private plane from Ponzi scammer Scott Rothstein. Lamberti “investigated” then cleared his officer .  This will come back to bite Lamberti in November.

 

 

 

Watchingtherace
Watchingtherace

Courthouse mouse has it right. The Bail Bondsmen hate any pre-trial release that doesn't require a bond. This includes pre-trial community control or electronic monitoring. These guys don't want anyone out of custody unless they can make a dollar on it. As Sheriff, if he cuts the budget to pre-trial services then more people will have to post bonds. It's all dirty!

myopinion
myopinion

I guess that is how Scott Isreal is going to reduce the budget by eliminating the regular workers that are in the Pre-Trial program.  This program works better than the bondsman program.  The bondsman have lost a lot of money and Scott Isreal has promised them if he was to be elected Pre-Trial will go before the County Commission to be eliminated.  The jails will be full again and the feds will charge the taxpayers of Broward County due to overcrowding.  Scott Isreal that is FOUL.  You won't get my vote. 

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII topcommenter

Some things are too coincidental to be a coincidence. Wonder how many judges take contributions from the bail bond industry? Just askin'? Ya know?

courthousemouse
courthousemouse

It is simple -- the bondsmen detest the County's ROR (release on own recognizance) program that has a good record of people in that program showing up for trial, which after all is what the bond system is about.    The contributors expect Israel to use his influence with the CoComms to do away with the program entirely if he is elected.    Simple quid pro quo, folks, now just vote and move on.  Nothing to see here.

granny5
granny5

 @Watchingtherace Not sure where you are getting your statistics but according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, financially secured release outperforms unsecured release through pretrial programs almost 2 to 1...and it doesn't cost taxpayer dollars.  If someone is going to get out on pretrial release, I know my family wants them monitored by a bail agent, who is on the hook for their appearance as opposed to a government employee who clocks out at 5:00 everyday and has no accountability.

king
king

 @myopinion listen scott isreal is a smart man especially to be around the biggest bail bondsman in the country...so what if this guy had problems 30 years ago stick too the facts isreal is a winner he only lost last time due to his affiliation with judy stern...go get em scotty they are shaking in there boots as in november you will be meeting with lamberti and your transition team.......

myopinion
myopinion

 @king That's the problem, as Sheriff your supposed to set the example.  If a deputy has a friend 30 years ago with problems (as you mentioned in your statement) then it's ok to consort with him/her even though your not supposed to?  I'm just sticking to the facts.  Isreal hired Judy Stern so that means it was her fault he lost in the 2008 election?  Sorry, just sticking to the facts.  Again the everyday worker getting an average salary will be out of a job because bondsman want back in the money train.  Dang, I just stuck to the facts again.  C'mon man!

king
king

 @myopinion you are correct except this fellow has no record under the law and this all happened when he was a 17 year old kid...30 years ago it seems he has done very well for himself and has not been in trouble for 3 decades...when is he forgiven..im sure he must be a descent man or isreal would not be associated with him...everyone deserves a second chance..at least give him that much

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Services

Loading...