The NYPBA Responds To Times Attacking NY Bondsmen Educating Consumers Prior to Them Signing Contracts That Bond-Out Poor Defendants From Jail
New York, NY (PRWEB) January 19, 2011
“Bail contracts are binding insurance policies containing ubiquitous language, terms and conditions that must be agreed to and signed prior to the posting of a bail bond in every state by every bail bond consumer,” said George Zouvelos, President of the New York Professional Bondsmen & Agents, the NYPBA (Http://NYPBA.com) and a licensed New York State Professional Bail Bondsman. The indicting article published in the New York Times last week utilized NY Insurance Department misleading data taken out of context stating, “…New York State Insurance Department, which licenses bondsmen, has received about 60 complaints against George Zouvelos, a bail-bond agent…”
The NYPBA believes the New York Times article unfair wording suggests impropriety pointing to a small number of complaints out of tens of thousands of bonds posted. The existence of detailed terms and conditions contained in bail contracts the bond consumer agrees to, but often violate, compel a bail bondsman to post bail and take on costly personal financial liability were vastly overlooked by the NY Times article. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/nyregion/10bailbonds.html?pagewanted=2
“Ironically the article did not mention that the indemnitors role when bailing a defendant from jail is not just to put up some bail money with a bondsman and then just sit back waiting for a refund two or three years later. If fact the indemnitors makes promises to provide the necessary moral suasion to convince the defendant bonded to comply with all the terms of release from jail. Sometimes indemnitors fail to meet their promised contractual burdens and it is then some indemnitors try to shake any responsibility, plead ignorance and run seeking relief to the purview less New York Department of Insurance. The facts are the bondsmen provide the service impeccably, but some indemnitors failed miserably to do what they previously promised, and agreeing to just put up some money was not in the original deal,” said Zouvelos.
The NYPBA further points out that the New York Times article further indicts, “Over a four-year period that ended in mid-July, the department received 227 complaints against 43 bail-bond agents.” “How much did it cost the New York Taxpayer to finance the insurance examiners oversight of these 227 complaints (56 a year statewide) of the 43 bondsman in the four year period described by the Times. How many of these complaints were unfounded, frivolous or bogus? In George Zouvelos’ case all were unfounded or frivolous, as George Zouvelos has never been sanctioned, fined, brought up on charges, or has never been found guilty of misconduct of any type by the Department of Insurance in the 7 years he has been a professional bail bondsman in New York State.
The NYPBA ‘did the numbers’ and the NY Times article did not mention extremely crucial facts that these alleged complaints were over a seven year period, and averaged 8 complaints per year for Zouvelos, the busiest bail bondsman in Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you utilize the actual number actual bail agents that exist in New York State (80), and divide the complaints across these, you get .7 complaints per bondsman in the entire State per year across a four year period.
NYPBA finds that these alleged 60 complaints (over a 7 year period) were out of tens of thousands of bail calls to George Zouvelos, tens of thousands free bail consultations and thousands of bonds actually posted by Zouvelos and his team. Facts not mentioned by Eligon in his NY Times article were that anyone can make a complaint or inquiry to the regulators, whether they are party to a bail contract or not. The alleged complaints against Zouvelos were unfounded inquiries surrounding private civil contractual matter disagreements. George Zouvelos has never been fined, sanctioned and never had his bail license suspended or revoked at any time by the New York Insurance Department. These were also important details overlooked and not disclosed by the NY Times.
“Of course no one wants to get a complaint, but even a jealous competitor can make a bogus call against you considered by the NY DOI as a legitimate complaint however unfounded. New York Bail Bondsmen never know the final conclusions of any inquiry made against us as the NY DOI does not communicate findings to anyone and we’ve been told by the DOI previously,” said Zouvelos.
The NYPBA research and reports cites publically disclosed binding New York Insurance Department Office of General Counsel (OGC) legal opinions. These OGC legal opinions state that the NY DOI oversees New York State Bail Bondsmen for their licensing, record-keeping and compensation alone. The NYPBA research shows that only 80 or so Professional Bail Bondsmen exist in New York State.
NYPBA will not allow the professional commercial bail industry to be silenced over any one persons opinion or over a NY Times article. We will not permit the Taxpayer Funds wasting ideologies of the publically funded Pretrial Release Services to go unchallenged. We will not permit our professionalism and politeness to be construed as silent affirmation to bias, purview less opinions or over despicably written article with indicting accusations in the total absence of crucial facts that has profoundly distorted the truth. Since only the partial truths and data were published it left the reader and general public to decide on the facts and draw conclusions based on a mere reporters biased opinions and ‘half-truths’. These comments in the article do not only seek to expand bail bondsmen oversight and regulation; although not specifically stated in the article, are de facto in full support of Pretrial Taxpayer funded services and bail bondsmen abolitionist movements under the auspices of protecting the incarcerated poor.
In previously published NYPBA research has found that an increase of consumer attempts to circumvent private contracts and indemnitor failed moral suasion is on the rise. These failed attempts to ‘back-out’ of terms and conditions previously agreed to include outreach to the Insurance Department to intervene when no laws or regulations have been broken by the bail agent. In only in extreme rare cases judges grant indemnitors any relief, as relief is not granted for promises previously made but broken by contract. Some seek unwarranted relief for their material breaches and broken promises wrongfully depend on the New York Department of Insurance examiners instead of the appropriate forums contractually agreed to. These private contracts are enforceable under New York Civil Contract Law and not New York State Insurance Law or any of its regulations. NYPBA research proves that people gather sometimes that do not know the defendant and are not good indemnitors for bail contracts, but lie about it to bail bondsmen in order to get someone’s friend or family member out of jail. Later when the defendant is noncompliant and now the indemnitor needs to pay for services rendered, or to pay for forfeited bonds, they do not understand why this is the case. http://insurancenewsnet.com/article.aspx?id=237591
NY Bail Bondmen painstakingly navigate through the archaic; an often capricious New York City bail system in order to bond a criminal defendant entitled to freedom from jail. By the NY Times omitting key facts previously presented, the article is construed by bail bondsmen and other industry experts as an attack against not only George Zouvelos, but the commercial bail industry in New York itself. Experts are construing these types of articles as further attempts to disenfranchise the general public against the valuable social functions and contributions the commercial bail industry provide Taxpayers, poor, working class and the public at large. It is a fact that hundreds of thousand outstanding criminal warrants not served exist in the aggregate from states that restrict or do not allow bail bondsmen to operate. http://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/article-on-bail-bondsmen-suggests-new-nickname-for-the-private-sector-is-there-anything-it-cant-do/
The NYPBA research and studies recommend that any changes in oversight should include an element that maintains the law enforcement components surrounding NY CPL 530.80 and not the executive or judicial branches for bondsmen seeking to arrest defendants out on bail bond. http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/ Professional Bail bondsmen in New York should be allowed to post bail at the jails day or night and on weekends and holidays and not have to depend on open courts as in nearly every other state.
“Bail Might Be a Rich Man’s Privilege Were It Not for the Bail Bondsman… Bail bondsmen monitor defendants, guide them through the court process, and help them show up for trial. ” Writes Noted Author, Professor & Economist Alex Tabarrok. http://www.wilsonquarterly.com/article.cfm?AID=1775
The NYPBA research points to thousands of criminal defendants awaiting trial that are eligible to be bailed and are waiting for a bail agent to navigate the onerous archaic court mandated bail system. These are being unnecessarily housed wasting Millions in New York Taxpayer dollars because bail bondsmen are not given the opportunity to get them out of jail at night and weekends posting bail at the jails as in nearly all other states. During harsh economic times when we need to save the Taxpayer money is it not a commonsensical to provide a bail/jail mechanism in which the bondsmen can post bail directly with the jail at any time as nearly all other states have implemented further saving Millions of Dollars for the Taxpayers and providing immediate relief for the incarcerated entitled to bail?
“Just last week we were in a criminal court part in Manhattan whereas it took three days from 9:30 Am to 5 PM each day in order to post a bail bond for $ 1000 because the court calendar did not permit opportunity for the bail bondsman to see the judge. This is just one example of a defendants ‘due process rights’ violations or interference secondary from an archaic system that demands bail bondsman see a judge instead of going to the jail 24/7 to bond a defendant as in nearly all other states. We do not see anyone doing a reports or writing research or anything about this in a liberally written and important fact omitting New York Times article,” said George Zouvelos, New York State Professional Bail Bondsman.
A Human Rights Watch report dealing with the real issues surrounding bail and the poor was not mentioned by Jon Eligon in his NY Times article although he has republished research from it. The report exposed serious concerns regarding the poor and indigent defendants seeking bail that have nothing to do with bail bondsmen being the culprit. http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/12/02/price-freedom
“Pretrial Release programs suggested have been proven in research to be vastly ineffective programs. These programs can bilk Taxpayers into shelling what may be Hundreds of Millions of dollars. In comparison, New York Bail Bondsmen, and Bondsmen everywhere cost the taxpayer zero dollars serving the public and ensure a defendants appearances in court or face dire financial consequences if they fail. All this while Bail Bondsmen are faced with hardships and discriminatory practices against the commercial bail industry that have been unaddressed for many years here in New York,” said Zouvelos.
“Opponents of a monetary system of release from jail have used scare tactics and falsehoods and led the community to believe that it is wrong for defendants to have to “pay their way out of jail.” They say by requiring monetary release, too many defendants will languish in jail. The reality is, however, that most defendants can come up with the small premium required for release or have family or friends post it for them. Surety bail is the only system that integrates family and friends into the bail contract as extra accountability that the defendant will appear for court and refrain from further criminal activity.” http://www.collateralmag.com/private-surety-bail-fosters-accountability-in-the-criminal-justice-system/
The NYPBA believes the problems with the poor attaining bail are much deeper than private bail contracts or what the NY Times article describes. The Times article seemed to summarily dismiss the true issues regarding the poor in the bail system by directly attacking a bail bondsman and the commercial bail industry instead of focusing on the real concerns as illustrated in a recent Human Rights Watch report http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/12/02/price-freedom
“The article describing what appears to be a New York Times rebuttal published by the National Herald in an investigative report dated January 15 2011 titled ‘You Can Mess With the Law, But Not with Bail Bondsman Zouvelos, is a fair perspective of what NY Bail Bondsmen and the bail industry servicing the poor face and not what the NY Times article strongly indicts,” said Zouvelos. http://www.thenationalherald.com/article/48790
“Today my bail contracts/insurance policies have solicited indicting commentary and are being scrutinized by the New York Times article and have solicited allegations and scorn from some insurance examiners within the New York Department of Insurance. But tomorrow my private contracts will be the mandated, ubiquitous way all bail agents in New York must outline and explain to the bail bond consumer every possible cost and pitfalls during the defendant tenure while out on bond. We are certain that only ‘time will tell’ and it will be an overwhelming endorsement in our favor no matter what mindless slander we now have to endure,” said George Zouvelos.
The NYPBA research of all bail agreements shows that the rules of the court regarding bail are further outlined and explained in bail affidavits submitted by bondsman like George Zouvelos to the court in order to get a defendant out of jail. When the bail applications are signed by judges they include ubiquitous previously agreed to and well understood contractual terms signed by indemnitors and defendants in order to garner jail release and compel a bondsman to take on costly liability and execute the bond with the court.
In New York State Bail is unlike 95% of all other states whereas in NY a the bondsman petitions the judge in open court directly as a state judge in New York must sign the bail affidavit and undertaking and the terms and conditions listed therein are factual and ‘so ordered’ by the judge. In other states the bail bondsmen take their paper work to the jail and deal with the jailer otherwise known as department of correction or sheriff. Weekly appearances with the bondsman, not getting re arrested and lead a law abiding life are also among the court mandated terms of jail release ordered by a judge for a defendant bonded out of jail by a bail agent.
NYPBA states that private bail bond contracts/insurance policies, signed by clients, should incorporate the Zouvelos method of providing FDIC Truth In Lending Act http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/6500-1400.html language. The contracts educate and inform laymen consumers by providing simple transparent language, terms, conditions, guidelines and possible costs that may be incurred. The Jon Eligon NY Times article did not mention that informative language complies with the Truth in Lending Act which is necessary for the indemnitors to understand prior to agreeing to pay to post a bail bond. http://www.fdic.gov/
“It is obvious by the insurance indemnity agreements approved by Department of Insurances nationally contain the same generalized terms and conditions that appear in our private bail contracts that are in fact much more informative detail. Why then is the NY Times and the Department of Insurance now attack me, my family and the entire commercial bail industry when the majority of the times we are the only ones assisting the poor and working class providing cost effective bail bonds, and defendant freedom at no cost to the Taxpayers. We are the trend setters providing the industry with the much needed benchmarks for transparency and truth in lending. If leading by example, being forthright, clear and honest is a crime then every judge that has reviewed our contracts and all have decided in our favor have been and are wrong. We will let the New York Department of Insurance themselves fight the plenary powers of the New York State Judiciary,” said George Zouvelos.
The NYPBA states that the fact OGC legal opinions clearly opine that the New York Department of Insurance has no purview over private contracts consulting adults have with each other. In New York States private contracts like the ones bail bondmen maintain with the insured are appropriately governed under New York Civil Contract Law and not the New York Department of Insurance who has no purview as per NY DOI own Office of General Counsel (OGC) decisions. (http://www.ins.state.ny.us/ogco2010/rg101115.htm) (http://www.ins.state.ny.us/ogco2004/rg041122.htm)
“I am a bail bondsman and clearly understand, but what some examiners in the Insurance Department and a reporter in the New York Times does not want to understand is that professional liable bail bondsmen in New York State are being whipsawed between the will of the court controlling bond posting and forfeitures and the Insurance Department who issues bail agent licenses. The court controls bail agents ability to post bail and earn a living, and the Department of Insurance who has no purview over ‘powers of attorney’, private contracts arrests, surrenders etc. demand at times we refund money to consumers when it is not rightfully due. These private bail contracts lawfully mirror the courts requirements of the bail agent and defendant and seek to promote good understandings between the insurer and the insured. More importantly, private bail contracts, as ours, accurately reflect the realistic variables that may occur during the course of a defendant criminal action that may cause the bail agent and the indemnitor to lose money separate from the premium that is just for the posting of the bond and the initial assumption of costly liability. The indemnitor, who are usually laymen, must be previously advised of the risks and costs that may be incurred regarding defendants being bailed out at their request in the form of contracts they are signing regarding same. Now all of a sudden the Department of Insurance claims and the New York Times strongly indicts sighting my and industry-wide impropriety because we enforce the ubiquitous terms contains in previously agreed to transparent private contracts. This is not all merely unjust, it is clearly ludicrous,” said Zouvelos.
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