Thursday, August 19, 2010

Final Charge Against Naples Bail Bondsman Dismissed

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NAPLES — Living up to his nickname, Teflon Joe, Naples bail bondsman Joe Houston walked out of the Collier County Courthouse a free man on Monday, after a judge dismissed the last felony charge remaining against him.

The ruling by Circuit Judge Frank Baker came six months after the judge dismissed a majority of charges against Houston, 38, who owns Liberty Bail Bonds and Express Bail Bonds in Naples, Immokalee and Fort Myers.

It’s been nearly three years since Houston’s arrest on charges that he permitted a felon to act as a bail bond agent, allowed someone to act as a bail bond agent without a license and solicited business inside the county jail by making deposits into inmates’ commissary accounts. He faced up to five years in state prison on each felony.

The charge dismissed Monday, employing a convicted felon, involved Arrie Denise Robinson, 47, who is employed by Houston as a secretary at Express Bail Bonds in Immokalee. She was convicted of welfare fraud in 1986 and ordered to return $786.33 she’d illegally obtained.

Baker agreed with defense attorneys Michael Levin and Donald Day that the charge applies to bond agents, not office employees.

After Baker granted the motion to dismiss, Meike Moss, who works for Houston, hugged her boss as they walked out of court. Both declined comment, as did Levin, but Day hoped it would send a message to those who believe Houston acts illegally.

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