Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bondsman Discovers Potential Problem in the System

Ronald Rutkiewicz just opened his bond office last year, but already thinks he's uncovered an unfair playing field.

"If you have no fear of having to pay it if he doesn't show up...then you have no fear of reprisal of having to pay the money," Rutkiewicz told First Coast News' Erich Spivey.

Rutkiewicz filed suit against Putnam County Clerk Tim Smith. He says Smith failed to collect money when suspects skipped court appearances, what's known as jumping bond.

For example, Rutkiewicz says suspect Eddie Brown failed to show up for sentencing in July, 2007.

And, according to the suit, the clerk's office failed to file a claim against the bondsman until a year later. That's something required by law within 95 days of a suspect jumping bond.

"It's up to the clerk's office to basically collect that money and from what I've seen so far, they have not been doing so," Rutkiewicz says.

"Was there a reason why they weren't being collected?" First Coast News questioned.

"No, not a particular reason, other than these are very complicated cases," Smith says.

Smith is attending a clerk's conference in Orlando. He told First Coast News by phone that his office is now in compliance with Florida statutes.

"You had about $80,000 that you were behind on?" we asked.

"Yes," Smith answered.

"But you've collected it all?" "Yes."

"There were some that were past the date that the statutes allowed, and with the judge's help we've gone back and reviewed and looked at judge's orders and brought those up to current compliance," Smith says.

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