Friday, July 16, 2010

Inmate Involved in Bail Bondsman Jailhouse Scheme to be Released After Time Served

— One of Collier County jail’s most frequent inmates was expected to walk out of the jailhouse doors a free man Wednesday night.

Patrick Rosemellia, 46, whose rap sheet contains about two dozen felony convictions and more misdemeanors, was expected to leave the jail hours after Circuit Judge Frank Baker granted his defense attorneys’ motion to enforce a plea agreement they contended the State Attorney’s Office reneged on.

The man he was to testify against as a star witness — Naples bondsman Joe Houston — still hadn’t posted his bond by 7:30 p.m.

“The state and Mr. Rosemellia had an agreement, and my client did his part,” defense attorney Beverly Brennan, co-counsel with attorney Michelle Hill, said afterward. “I’m very glad that Judge Baker took the time to consider our arguments and then held the state to their promise.”

Two months ago, Baker denied their motions, but Hill filed a new one, attaching transcripts to prove Rosemellia — once the state’s star witness in cases against Houston and his business partner, Juanita Williams — hadn’t changed his testimony. Hill and Brennan argued he had consistently maintained he had no agreement with Houston to pay him for sending inmates to him for bonds.

In April, Baker ruled that Rosemellia violated a plea agreement and sentenced him to five years in state prison for acting as a bail bondsman without a license and violating probation due to a new drug arrest.

A day before sentencing, Brennan filed a motion to enforce the 15-month plea agreement.

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Assistant State Attorney Dave Scuderi told the judge he revoked the plea deal after Rosemellia changed his story in depositions and court hearings.

Wednsday afternoon, as Houston and Williams watched, Baker sentenced Rosemellia to 19.4 months in prison, time served because Rosemellia had been held 23 months. He hugged his lawyers, but was returned to jail to be processed and released.

He’s not truly a free man because he was arrested on a drug charge four days after his release from prison last September.

The bond case, which relied on Rosemellia, took years for investigators and prosecutors to build against Houston and his business partner, Williams, and Liberty Bail Bonds and Express Bail Bonds. It sparked protests that the two were being targeted because they are black.

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