Monday, January 28, 2008

Bail Bond Firm Can Get Back Money

A bail bond company will get another chance to get back the $50,000 bond it posted for a defendant in a Cumberland County drug case who eventually fled to Pakistan.

In an appeal decision released Tuesday, Allegheny Casualty Company, a surety company affiliated with AA Bail Bonds in Bridgeton, will get another chance to argue for return of the $50,000 forfeited to the state when Munir Faswala failed to appear in court.

The appeals ruling overturns an earlier Superior Court decision that denied the company's attempts to retrieve the money it posted in Faswala's name.
Faswala, 50, of Brigantine, was arrested in Cumberland County on Feb. 16, 2005, on multiple charges of obtaining controlled dangerous substances or prescription drugs by fraud, and for failure to report transactions of cash to proper government agencies, according to court records and the 6-page appeals opinion.

On the same day, AA Bail Bonds, which is located across from the county courthouse, posted Faswala's $50,000 bail in exchange for a $5,000 non-refundable payment from the defendant.

But Faswala didn't report to the bail bond company as required by the company's agreement and, on March 15, 2005, Canadian border officials near Buffalo, N.Y., detained him as he tried to leave the United States.

Richard Sparano, an agent for the surety company, notified the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office of Faswala's apparent flight and asked a New Jersey Superior Court judge to vacate the bond and issue a warrant for the defendant's arrest, according to the appeal.

The Prosecutor's Office declined to stop Faswala from leaving the country, according to the appeal, a factor in the judge's decision to vacate the bond.

The judge also noted that Faswala had not yet missed a court date and that no warrant had previously been issued.

Canadian authorities released Faswala, and, on April 11, 2006, he failed to appear for a hearing in Superior Court in Bridgeton.

A bench warrant was issued and the $50,000 bond was seized from the surety company.

In a court hearing to stop the forfeiture of the $50,000, the surety company argued that the Prosecutor's Office failed to revoke the bail or take any action and as a result, border authorities released Faswala, the appeal said.

The release allowed Faswala to leave the United States and, ultimately, return to Pakistan, according to the appeals decision.

But the state argued that the surety company had not submitted certification of the prosecutor's actions in the case.

The state also said the company didn't appeal the original order of the judge who denied its motion to vacate bail and issue a warrant.

In an interview Tuesday, Richard Capone, the surety company's attorney who filed the original motion to revoke Faswala's bail said: "It was a matter of common sense that this defendant was going to flee."

County officials declined to comment and state court officials could not be reached for comment.

The appeals decision noted that the surety company should at least get another chance to establish that it did everything within its power to make sure Faswala would appear in court.

"If the Prosecutor's Office allowed border authorities to release Faswala by advising that it would not seek his return, such action could be construed as increasing the risk of Faswala's non-appearance," the six-page opinion said.

The opinion said information on the surety company's actions and the actions of the Prosecutor's Office need to be determined before a decision can be made on whether the bail will be returned to the company or retained by the state.

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