Following a 10-month investigation by the California Department of Insurance’s (CDI) Investigation Division, two Riverside, Calif., residents have been arrested.
Kent Morgan, 43, of Murrieta, and owner of Rancho Bail Bonds, surrendered to authorities on August 14 after being charged with 40 felony counts by the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. The charges include grand theft and permitting an unlicensed person to transact bail. Morgan was released on $100,000 bond. If convicted, he could face probation or up to 29 years in prison.
Kenneth Kaesser, 63, of Chula Vista, surrendered on August 16 and was also released on $100,000 bond. He was charged with 20 felony counts including transacting bail without a license and perjury. He will be arraigned on August 22 in the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. If convicted, he could face probation or up to 15 years in prison.
In 2005, the CDI Investigation Division received an anonymous tip that alleged an unlicensed individual was soliciting and transacting bail at the Rancho Bail Bonds office in Lake Elsinore. Bail bonds activity has always been considered a priority for the CDI’s Investigation Division, and the California insurance code requires all bail transactions to be conducted only by licensed individuals.
Investigation revealed that between 2003 and 2005, while employed by Rancho Bail Bonds and under instruction by Morgan, Kaesser wrote hundreds of bonds worth at least $2,165,242 in bail contracts. The bonds were posted in detention centers throughout Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and other California counties for charges including narcotics, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats, and firearms violations.
A bail bond is a legal contract in which an agent guarantees to the court that the defendant will appear in court as required; it is signed under penalty of perjury that an agent holds a valid bail license. The fact that Kaesser was not licensed while signing the documents calls into question the validity of these bonds.
Due to the fact that this case involved an unlicensed person allegedly transacting bail (Kaesser), a court could potentially have ruled these bonds invalid and issued a warrant for the re-arrest of the suspects, or hold the underwriting insurance company liable for the full penal amount (total bail amount) of these illegally-sold bonds.
Consumers in need of bail should make sure they are dealing with a person holding a valid bail license; otherwise, they put themselves at risk of being released from jail on an illegitimate bail bond. The public needs to verify the status of the licensee by asking to see the bail license or checking the licensee’s name or license number on the Department’s website at: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/license-status.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s office is prosecuting this case.
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