Calif. Bail Agent Arrested for Grand Theft

February 9, 2011

The California Department of Insurance announced the arrest of Van Nuys , Calif., resident Stephanie Diane Johnson, 55, on a warrant for one felony count of grand theft. If convicted on the charge, Johnson faces a maximum of three years in state prison.

From February 2009 through April 2009, Johnson executed 13 American Surety Co. bail bonds with a total face value of $390,000, within the County of Los Angeles. Johnson collected no less than $34,000 in gross premiums from 12 of the 13 defendants that she bailed out of custody, yet failed to remit $5,070 in net premiums due to American CDI said. Instead, Johnson diverted these funds for her own personal use.

The investigation also revealed that Johnson failed to return or account for 11 bail bonds with a total face value of $250,000 and worth $3,250 in premium to American. The bonds have not been located or accounted for by the suspect. Based on past experience, bail bonds that have not been returned by bail agents could have been executed to release suspects from jail and issued to courts without reporting to the surety company, exposing the surety company to losses equal to the bond value, as well a loss of premium.

The Investigation Division, Criminal Operations – Point of Sale [C.O.P.S.] Unit first learned of the scheme in May 2010 and initiated an immediate investigation. In June 2010, Johnson met with investigators and surrendered her bail license when confronted with the evidence. The case is being prosecuted by the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Source: CDI

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