Tom Rice, Field Investigator, and Kimberly Morgan, Supervising Investigator, with the California Department of Insurance (DOI), Investigations Division, addressed the September monthly meeting of the Orange County Bail Agent’s Association (OCBAA). The Department of Insurance is the state regulatory agency for the California bail industry.
Mr. Rice reviewed the division’s main objectives to protect consumers and to promote a healthy bail industry. He noted that the agency is complaint driven and complaints can be originated via an online complaint form or a call to the local office. He recommended that Orange County bail agents assist in policing their industry by filing such complaints because the DOI has no other way of knowing that there are problems. “We don’t know what’s going on in the bail industry without you guys,” said Rice.
As a whole, the bail industry is concerned with bondsman who are perpetrating bail scams and breaking the law. Not only is this a nuisance to our business, it is fraudulent to the consumer. At the Orange County Central Jail Complex, soliciting outside the jail by unlicensed agents and by agents offering illegally low rates is a real problem.
According to Rice, to open an investigation into a bail agent or company, a violation of law must be documented with viable witnesses or proof. Mr. Rice went on to review the flow of an investigation and indicated that investigations are time intensive and can take years to complete. When enough evidence has been compiled, the investigator takes the information to the District Attorney’s office. Often DA’s are not familiar with bail law and the investigator has additional work to do to bring the case to trial.
For those of us running bail companies, the length of these investigations and the seeming lack of responsiveness by our regulator are frustrating. During the Q&A portion of the meeting, Mr. Rice and Ms. Morgan were asked to address this concern. The investigators indicated that it can be frustrating to them as well to put in two years of investigation and see minimal results when it comes to prosecution.
Ms. Morgan and Mr. Rice work in the field office in San Bernardino which covers the territory of Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Riverside and Indio. Greg Rynerson Bail Bonds is a member of the OCBAA.