Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Teenager to go From Probation to Bondsman?

A bonding company’s request to add as an agent a Kingsport teen recently placed on probation for theft went undecided Tuesday.

Allyn Hood of A-Hood Bonding Co. filed a petition in Sullivan County Circuit Court back in April asking Judge Robert Montgomery to grant Brandon Wayne Bentley the authority to act as an agent of his bonding company.

Montgomery frowned upon the idea of placing Bentley, 18, 2708 Bethel Lane, in charge of handling bond funds when he had just been placed on probation for misdemeanor theft from a previous employer.

According to court records, Bentley admitted to Target security personnel in January that he’d loaded gift cards with between $5 and $6 on at least five separate occasions.

Montgomery reset the case to about six months from now. He said by then it should be clear whether Bentley could be trusted to adhere to the conditions of his probation, which include not being charged with any new offenses.

As of Tuesday’s hearing, Montgomery noted that Bentley hadn’t even been on probation long enough to have a drug test.

According to court records, Bentley received a certificate of compliance May 30 from the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents. His attorney asked Montgomery if it would “sway the court’s opinion” knowing that Bentley has a 17-month-old son to support. Earlier, Bentley told the court he’d quit his job as a waiter at a local restaurant on Sunday, apparently in expectation of receiving the court’s approval at Tuesday’s hearing.

Montgomery’s response reiterated that he would consider the petition again in six months time.

Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Barry Staubus said misdemeanor convictions generally are not a barrier to becoming a bail bondsman, but Bentley’s case is a bit unusual because the petition was made while he was still serving his sentence for the conviction.

Felony convictions also do not always prohibit a person from becoming a bail bond writer. According to Tennessee law, a person convicted of a felony may only be allowed to serve as a surety if there has been a restoration of the convicted felon’s rights of citizenship.

Court records indicate a second prospective A-Hood bail bond writer, Marcella Taylor, brought Montgomery proof that Judge Phyllis Miller restored her citizenship on April 7, 2006, following Taylor’s 1989 conviction for sale of marijuana. However, the outcome of her case was not immediately known, as a judgment had not yet been entered in court records as of Wednesday afternoon.

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