Monday, October 08, 2007

Two Ex-Bondsmen Charged

Two former bail bondsmen have been sentenced to four months in prison as part of a plea deal in which they admitted to conspiring with a prominent Orange County defense attorney to illegally solicit jail inmates for his law firm.

Alejandro de Jesus Cruz, 35, of Florida, and Jorge Andres Castro, 31, of Aliso Viejo were also sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $9,000 restitution by Superior Court Judge Carla Singer on Friday.

In February, they pleaded guilty to a pair of felonies, saying that they were paid by Irvine attorney Joseph Cavallo to solicit clients on his behalf. Cruz and Castro operated Xtreme Bail Bonds in Santa Ana between June 2003 and August 2005. They have since lost their licenses because of the case.

Castro's attorney Peter Scalisi called the sentence "a fair and just way to resolve the charges."

Cavallo is scheduled for trial on October 22 on similar felony counts, including conspiracy to commit attorney capping, conspiracy to commit attorney recommendation by a bail licensee and violating a bail license regulation. He has pleaded not guilty.

Cavallo defended the son of a former Orange County assistant sheriff in two high-profile sexual assault cases.

Cruz and Castro may be subpoenaed to testify against Cavallo, said Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said after Friday's sentencing. Scalisi said Castro would rather not testify against Cavallo, but will if he has to.

Prosecutors allege that Cruz and Castro kept stacks of Cavallo's business cards at Xtreme Bail Bonds and that Castro instructed employees to refer clients to Cavallo in exchange for kickbacks.

State law prohibits bail bond workers from recommending any attorney to a client, even if no money changes hands. The law also prohibits attorneys from paying non-lawyers for client referrals.

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