DA Watkins Says He'll Get a Law Firm to Collect That $35 Million in Missing Bail Bond Money

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No doubt you, the well-informed and engaged Friend of Unfair Park, are well aware that Dallas County's missing around, oh, $35 million that some bail bondsmen somehow forget to turn over to the county when their clients fail to show up for court. The Dallas Morning News had the story over the weekend, though as Schutze pointed out during our weekly editorial meeting this morning, he can recall writing a very similar story for the Dallas Times Herald, like, 74 years ago. Because as Kevin Krause and Ed Timms wrote, many of those forfeitures date "back decades."

But no mas, says Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins in a statement that just landed in the Unfair Park in-box. Only, he's gonna have to go outside his office to find himself a tracker, because his office is "understaffed and underfunded for a jurisdiction of its size," meaning Watkins "does not have the resources to designate assistant district attorneys to focus on the collection of bond forfeitures." Let's hop in our Bentleys and drive over the jump to read the entire statement. And leave your bond money on the nightstand.
District Attorney to Appoint Law Firm to Collect Outstanding Bond Forfeitures

(DALLAS, TX - July 6, 2011) - Today Dallas County District Attorney (DA) Craig Watkins announced that he will appoint a local law firm to collect an estimated $35 million in outstanding bond forfeitures owed to the county. The District Attorney's Office, which is understaffed and underfunded for a jurisdiction of its size, does not have the resources to designate assistant district attorneys to focus on the collection of bond forfeitures. Thus, the DA will select and hire a law firm (as allowed by the statute) to handle the outstanding funds from default judgments that had gone uncollected for years prior to Mr. Watkins taking office in 2007. The firm hired to spearhead this effort will retain 25 percent of the total amount collected and the remaining balance will go into the county's general fund.

"A recent report stating that there are no policies and procedures in place at the DA's office is absolutely incorrect," said Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins. "We have been looking into this issue for the past two years. In 2010, we hired a bond forfeiture subject matter expert to work full-time in our Civil Division to seek forfeiture judgments in current civil cases. However, it is going to take more than one individual to proactively go after default judgments that were never collected. Therefore, we will have to bring in someone from the outside to manage the collection of these funds as our civil attorneys are already busy representing the county on a host of other civil matters. During my first term, we focused on cleaning up the failures of the past and improving policies and procedures to operate more efficiently. This is among many issues that still need to be corrected and hiring a law firm to dedicate their time and attention to resolving this issue is the first step."


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25 comments
La Piso
La Piso

@Montemalone - to be fair - Craig Watkins ran a bond company when he was a defense lawyer and I bet you dollars to donuts he is on that list and has a conflict of interest. Wonder what good ol' boy croonie will get the law firm job?

P1Steven
P1Steven

When I skipped court, the bondsman was on me like white on rice.... I should have called their bluff.

RW1961
RW1961

I'm tired of the County constantly blaming every issue on old computers. Are we all completely unable to function unless a keyboard is nearby? Print out a list, compare that list, make them pay up.

Dallasseoguru
Dallasseoguru

John Wiley Price had a favorable relationship with the two oldest and largest bond companies Delta and Cowboy Bail Bonds. It seems like Scott Jones and the bond board think they are some sort of "Kingpins" or untouchables. About time they re-level the playing field.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Any way to determine if the Bail Bondsman JWP did his real estate deals is on the list?

Jay
Jay

Watkins has been on this issue for two years............without any results....yet Ch 8 just breaks the story? Really.............

Watching
Watching

Wonder how much Watkins  owes the county from his slimey bail bondsman days?

Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

Has anyone at the News stopped to ask about CW's involvement in all of this with the Bail Bond business his wife owns, which he owned previously?  I'm betting they owe the county money too.  I wonder how much he...er she owes, and how all of these legal manuevers don't create a conflict for him.  Sounds like the AG should step in again. 

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

Every day a report is made of all bond forfeitures from all Courts notice sent to Bond company ,why can't that same notice go to DA and District Clerk what type of tracking are they talking about,system in place reports information it only need to be read and forwarded to Bail Bond board for consideration.Do all Elected Officials think Voters are dumb? How could DMN track for their story if its so difficult? Bail Bond industry is very strong and has strong lobbyist.Dallas County Commissioners Court killed the successful Pretrial release program because it was costing Bail Bond companies money,one of the reasons jail population continue to be high.Bail Bond board has two members of Commissioners,these men approve budget of Tax assessor,County clerk,District clerk,Sheriff so what do you think they said when John Price gives his orders.Clay Jenkins has not a clue. Collection Agency lawyers charge to collect who will DA use Senator West Collection or Demetris Sampson the County Tax collector?

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Let's see........25% of $35M is about $8.8M........before you know it, we're going to be talking about some serious money........

Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

This matter would be a great feature article in the Observer if it has been going on since Nixon.  Where are all the whistle blowers?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

If it's Linebarger, Goggin, Blair and Sampson... well... that will certainly tell us something, now, won't it.... Sniff, sniff, what's that smell?

fitzgerald
fitzgerald

County politics as usual.  Where is Sheriff Thomas when we need him to keep the fires burning.

pak152
pak152

why a law firm? could someone splain that to me? seems to me you would just deputize a whole bunch of folks, and send them out to collect the money. how about hiring a bunch of repo men? or Dog the Bounty Hunter?

Amy S
Amy S

Considering the extensive accounting autopsy it's going to take to unravel these old records, on top of the collection costs from the companies and (possible) 3rd party bond insurers, 25% seems rather reasonable. Not to mention that a chunk is probably going to be downright uncollectable.

Would love to know the law firm as well - know a few college students looking for some accounting internships.....

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I wonder if Sen. Royce West or Domingo Garcia might be available for this gig?

Admonkey
Admonkey

What's the law firm's cut going to be? And which law firm?

EP
EP

Good to see Watkin's not still smarting over the smackdown he got when he refused to cut his budget like every other county agency did. Never seen so many whiners in once place. Dallas County government is like being in the 7th grade all over again...only with better toys.

CIS
CIS

Yesterday Jenkins attempted to discuss the Bail matter inCommissioner's Court, in violation of the open meetings act. What an amateur,even a small-town councilperson knows you cannot discuss something on that ismissing from the posted agenda.  Jenkinsis an empty suit selected to support JWP. 

El Rey
El Rey

This is the same incompetent DA who fought with the County Commisioners about cutting his budget, while he could have just enforced the law on his bail bond cronies. Now that this has come to light, he is being forced to do something about it. I'm sure his buddies will be cutting back on the political donations next election...

Montemalone
Montemalone

To be fair, Watkins has only had the job a few years, the bond guys have been stiffing the county since Nixon.

Jay
Jay

To be fair, Watkins has sat on his ass while the Commissioner's Court (under different leadership), the FBI and the Attorney General have policed Dallas County.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Okay, Mr. Persnickety, how about TR?

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