Friday, February 16, 2007

County limits a third of its bail bond companies

The Monitor - McAllen, Texas: "The sheriff’s department corrected the computer loophole in their bail bonds system this morning, effectively shutting down a third of the bondsmen in Hidalgo County.

“We just did it a little while ago,” said Cmdr. Danny Garcia of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department.

“They don’t really start bonding out until the afternoon time, so we wouldn’t have had any problems yet. I don’t think there will be.”

For years bail bonding companies have been operating under wildly inflated limits, allowing them to bond out an almost unlimited number of prisoners with limited collateral. County officials have attributed to the situation to a programming error made during former sheriff Enrique “Henry” Escalon’s administration.

Last week the Hidalgo County Bail Bonds Board voted to enter the companies’ correct limits, preventing any bondsman in debt to the county from bonding out any more prisoners.

According to sheriff’s department records, eight bail bondsmen are presently over their limits, in some cases by more than $1 million. Two bonding companies that were over Friday have since had their limits increased, presumably after providing the county with more collateral."

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