John Wiley Price and the Broken Bail Bond Board

The county bail bond board has long let the industry take a county for a ride. You'll never guess who's at the wheel.

If the ongoing FBI corruption probe is based on things that have gone wrong with county government, the feds may be in trouble. Really bad things happen at the county on really good days. If you walk into county offices and it looks like the entire psych ward has escaped and gone over to the jail for a party, you know everything's going according to plan.

Whether that helps or hurts Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, the target's main probe, will depend on what else the feds find in those boxes. If they have smoking guns, then, sure, the various messes at the county during Price's 30-year run may make a good corruption case against him.

But if there is no smoking gun, Price could come off looking like the one good guy who's trying to keep order at the nut-house.

A good example is the recent spate of stories about the county's bail bondsmen. The Dallas Morning News reported earlier this month that bail bondsmen — people who make money by posting bonds for prisoners so those prisoners can get out of jail — owe Dallas County $35 million, for all the times their clients have skipped their court dates.

After the News published its story, county officials said that even if $35 million is missing, they could only hope to collect $6 million. The next day they revised that number downward a bit. The new amount: $500,000, enough to cover about seven billable hours from the county lawyers.

Price is in the background in this story, because over the years he's aggressively maintained control and influence over the county's bail bond business. But is that influence a good thing or a bad?

You be the judge.

Last week I chatted with C.W. Archer, a retired sergeant in the Dallas County Sheriff's Department. Archer spent decades in charge of the county jail's bond desk, and he tells me that much of the problem can be blamed on the bondsmen's lobbyists.

A while back, for instance, state lawmakers passed a law allowing bondsmen to write bonds for up to ten times the amount of the cash they put up with the county. So a bondsman puts up his $50,000 deposit and can write bonds for up to $500,000. If his bail bond business goes belly-up — and they sometimes do — the county eats $450,000 in forfeited bonds.

It gets worse. Archer explained another, even slicker way the bond business runs wild: by getting the backing of insurance companies. State law gives any bondsman with an "insurance license" virtual free rein, at no ultimate risk to anyone but the county.

"If you get an insurance license, which probably most of the companies in Dallas County have," Archer said, "then there's no limit to the number of bonds they can write."

It's state law. The sky's the limit.

"The law says that this insurance company is licensed to do business in Texas, therefore it's solvent, and it has no limit," Archer said.

But Archer learned over years of experience — and I learned in an hour online — that there's a big shortcoming in the solvent-insurance-company concept: They're not all solvent.

"When that insurance company goes under, which most of them have, that can look really bad on the computers," Archer said. "There's absolutely nothing that can be done about it."

When the county gets stuck for forfeited bond money, those amounts just stay on the books forever, Archer said. "Nobody wants to be the one who took it off."

But it's not real money. It's not even real debt after a while. It's like the engraving I plan to put on the back of my tombstone for any unfortunate creditors I may leave behind: "We are deeply sorry, but the funds you are seeking are no longer with us."

So does that mean the county is just totally defenseless against the bail bond industry? Sort of. But it doesn't have to be.

I also spent time last week having coffee at a southwest Dallas Denny's with a woman named Beverly Dingess. She used to run the bond forfeiture division of the county clerk's office, one of the many arms of government that have hands in the bond business.

Dingess explained the elaborate system of notifications that are supposed to go back and forth from courts to clerks to the sheriff's department when someone fails to show for court. Almost none of it is truly computerized. It's an old-fashioned system dependent on information being shared by all of the people who need to know.

Part of Dingess' duties involved attending the monthly meetings of the Dallas County Bail Bond Board, a body created to provide oversight for all this. By law, the board can grant licenses to bondsmen and take licenses away, depending on how well the bondsmen are doing at covering their forfeitures.

Also by law, county officials with bail bond responsibilities are supposed to attend the meetings or send trusted delegates. It's an early warning system designed to alert the county to trouble before a bondsman goes down. Attending the meetings was how Dingess knew whether a bail bondsman's business was in trouble.

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176 comments
Bailman2008
Bailman2008

I am a bail bond business owner in San Antonio and I am one of the most if not the only honest one in town. I know how the system is supposed to work and know how or when someone is using the system. We have our own "Wiley"bondsmen in town that game the system by gaming the individuals with direct control, which is county staffers. About 3 years ago a columnist did a investigative piece on a bondsman but nobody with the ability or law enforcement power did anything about it. Today there are rumors that the men in black are finally asking questions. As to Wiley the bail board member, he wants to sit on that board for obvious reasons - donations, donations, donations (reported or otherwise). As to the bond forfeitures - my only response is the DA along with all those that have direct oversight have looked the other way for one simple reason - donations, gifts, cowboy tickets...that scenario has played out here for many years and perhaps now the men in black have finally taken notice as they have in Big D.

Badboybonds
Badboybonds

Maybe they should try to let the State Dept of Insurance grant, renew, and revoke the license. Agents are audited by the Insurance Dept yearly. This works well in Indiana. The court sets the bail amount, the bond is 10% of the bail. It has to be paid completely before its posted. This keeps bail bond agents from having to be debt collectors too! Unpaid forfeitures are reported to the Insurance Dept. A notice to the agent will follow. If not paid, the agents license will be suspended/revoked. Insurance Companies are held accountable in this same manner. Private bail bond agents provide the best accountability for their defendants when the system operates properly. Private Bail = less tax payer expense, better appearance rates, and more private sector jobs.

Cruikshankjames
Cruikshankjames

well ,well,well, johney we hardley knew yee!!! but they gon get ya this time , thet why you pushin white ladies out the cityies buildin's? ya'll skeared johny, huh?huh? areyee johhney???

Et Tu Brutus
Et Tu Brutus

John Wiley the face of Dallas and in a few years with folks like him running things we will have another Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta etc.

Spider
Spider

He better be praying for Mercy, because if he is praying for justice and gets it, he is in deep chit!

whaddup
whaddup

Is there some reason why you have to run this everyday on the Yahoo page? Enough already

Cole
Cole

He looks like he may have a little ape in him .give that boy a banana

Cole
Cole

Time to defeather that black bird ..............

J Everett_ls
J Everett_ls

High profile lawyer $100,000.00Forensic accountants $100,000.00Who's paying for his defense????

Abc_bj
Abc_bj

this guy is trash and a low rent racist thug that deserves to be strug up and publicly disgraced for his corrupt life he ruins it for all black people....

Mo022653
Mo022653

John Wiley Price......I moved from Dallas in 1990 and NEVER thought that leech could hang on for that long. Back in the day, J.W.P. looked like a Bobby Seal wannabe, now he looks like overcooked duck on Thanksgiving. How did that guy survive so long ?

Eatmyshit
Eatmyshit

lmao... like ALL of every Dallas board isn't corrupt!!?? From the courts to school board... its all screwed! Too much "darkness" in Dallas...

Cole
Cole

hes one ugly black bird

Charles B
Charles B

Where there's smoke there's fire.

Cole
Cole

they are going to hang that black bird

jake
jake

Let's see, the bondsmen are bailing people out then the people aren't showing up to court, but then the bondsmen aren't being held liable to pay the full bail? And Price is running the bail program for the county? Makes sense to me.

Catholic
Catholic

HE LOOKS LIKE THAT "UGLY SON OF A BITCH" FROM THE MOVIE "PEDRATOR" WITH HIS AFRICAN BRAIDS AND EVERYTHING.

J Everett_ls
J Everett_ls

Wonder how many of his lawyers are minority?

Redviking76
Redviking76

Price is a crooked scumbag that should be behind bars himself, along with most other "career" political figures.

Thutchison1960
Thutchison1960

I think anyone in Texas Politics after 30 years may have to wash their hands a little more often than the average citizen.

Spencer
Spencer

I don't know but my red flag is activated. I hope it's wrong but I think he may be on the take.

rolmbo

Glen
Glen

He's crooked as hell, but probably no more crooked than anyone else who has been in government for 30 years.

Jcgreen59
Jcgreen59

God’s grace or divine enablement is more than sufficient for you. God’s grace upon our lives is more than we will ever need. God’s strength or power is made perfect in our weaknesses. Therefore, let us be confident even in our weaknesses knowing that the power of Christ rests upon us. Let us take pleasure even in infirmities and weaknesses, because when we are weak, then we are strong in Christ. [2 Cor 12:9-10]

God will always grant us the grace we need to overcome every weakness or challenge in our lives. Our weaknesses bring the best out of the perfect strength of Christ in our lives. Being weak and vulnerable makes us ideal candidates or vessels for the manifestation of God’s strength. Do not be afraid of your weaknesses and limitations, because God’s perfect strength kicks in where your own strength ends.

Jdoncrafts
Jdoncrafts

Price has been cheating and getting rich off the county for years. Who in the hell didn't know that. He just know what pockets to share with.

Rufus
Rufus

John Wiley Price is a dishonest negro, albeit rich now. The courts and evidence will bear this out.

Allen968
Allen968

Your article is full of inaccurate information. Just another example of sensationalism.

JackLean
JackLean

JWP has been the biggest cause of racial divisions in Dallas since demagogue Diane Ragsdale walked the halls of Dallas government buildings and blamed everything on "white racists." Price should have been in jail for assault and battery years ago.

He is, quite simply, the most despicable racist in Dallas...even worse than some of the "covert" Republican racists hiding behind their wealth in the gated communities of Dallas' white enclaves. But after 10+ years of exposure to this unrelenting racism during the 80's and 90's, I left Dallas in my rearview mirror and don't miss any of this contentiousness and stupidity one bit.

Rphoopstar
Rphoopstar

Lost a 5.ooo cash bond in Dallas County, some south dallas layer signed the money out,havent got it back yet!

Randy
Randy

In most states Real Estate must be put up for a bond or 100% cash.

Where is the beef?

Olyg
Olyg

How is this crappy story about this crappy guy nad his crappy corrupted friends on the Dallas council maintains frontpage news at yahoo.com.....oh wait...he's black....I forgot....noi wait....no I didn't....he's a Dallas employee.

WhyyoucrazyforJWP
WhyyoucrazyforJWP

I'm new to Dallas and don't understand why the press is obessed with Price. This article wasted my time_-it didn't say anything more but how the state laws allow bail bond companied to spend what they don't have. This similiar to the federal government and banking industry. Where is the proof that Price did something wrong? Huh?

M.H. Johanson
M.H. Johanson

jwp has been a problem long enough. time to go. If he's re-elected, no responsibilities involving money of any kind.

Steve
Steve

leave JWP alone .he's been breaking the law and half-ass representing his district for years so don't start jacking with him now

Topicalrain
Topicalrain

Price - $35 million down the toilet = Price is the flush lever, The City of Dallas needs to be Priceless

G
G

It's actually freedom from religion.

G
G

I think because these politicians (black or white) make decisions based on publicity and our economy is down that we will see more politicians (black or white) held accountable. It's about time!!!!!

G
G

I'm white and you are out of line. The Dallas County Government has been screwed up but not because blacks were elected. Some have been off the wall, but this is how change is made.

G
G

Too bad you're not from Texas - you would find that JWP and the likes (black or white) are poster children for this behavior. By the way, he is part of the government and is a politician. He is a Texas Law Maker. He is part of the Dallas corrupt political system which includes police.

G
G

I would agree with you. JWP attacks everything with his own internal hate. Address anything with love and it will be about love.

G
G

TD Jakes says black hold each other back more than a white man or woman ever holds a skin color back. Start being love and it will be about love.

Ge'Nette
Ge'Nette

Cole, You are super Ignorant! I pray for mercy for you, as there is Life and Death in the tongue of a FOOL! " He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction! Commissioner Price taught me years ago that their are " White handkerchief head wearing" people in all race!! Cole, you yourself identified your ignorance world wide by playing the card of racial name calling. Really Fool... Commissioner Price has been called many names and YET he stand as a Intellectual, Intelligent, Smart, Educated ...MAN. That is Lethal!! Is that really why people want him out as oppose to looking back on how he fought and help the communities! It is NOT what you are being called Fool, it is what you anwer too!

I digress because I also know not to entertain ignorance!! make it a Bless day and Remember the truth of the matter is when we use words recklessly or in a way that cuts others, we are not being wise! Be careful we ALL have a judgement day! Black birds FLY which means you still have to LOOK UP to him....

spider
spider

Yeah, it could almost be a Visa commercial. Legal Representation $100K, Special book cooking accountants $100K... Stealing from the community, accepting bribes, but getting away with it, by playing the race card? PRICELESS!

CharleneDal
CharleneDal

And just to let you know that we are all so very glad you left.

Dzx173
Dzx173

Dallas has and will always have race problems until generation X' ers take over...sorry baby boomers..but its the truth

txtopcop
txtopcop

JWP has helped ONE person. JWP..... Period.Just like the people who voted for Obama.... they don't know anything about JWP, they just want to make sure a 'brother' is in the house..... I've put up with JWP for over 20 years, and I find him to be a disgusting, arrogant racist..... end of story.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

Yes, "black birds fly," but white bird must fly, or she will die. Have a beautiful day.

Mo022653
Mo022653

Jess sayin'.....Price is one reason why the City of Dallas isn't the greatest city in the country. J.W.P. is a nail in the road.

JackLean
JackLean

CharlenDal, And just to let you know, I'm ecstatic (that means happy ) that I'm not sharing the hellhole with you either.Please don't hold me responsible for your inadequacies in judgement.

Subject: [vvm-dal] Re: John Wiley Price and the Broken Bail Bond Board

 
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