Friday, December 17, 2010

Judge Loses Bench Over Bail Bonds Gifts

Seems like recently we've seen quite a few bondsmen arrested for illegal business practices or issues relating to their bonding agencies. However, someone from the other side of the fence has been identified in a bail bonds scandal. Thomas Porteous, a well known federal judge in Louisiana, has been removed from the bench after a US Senate hearing. At issue, was his acceptance of gifts from bail bondsmen. Gifts included trips, meals and other items of value. The problem is that these gifts may have affected the judge's consideration of bail bonds and treatment of the bondsmen on the cases.

Testifying against Porteous was a a New Orleans bail bondsman, would said that he took the judge on expensive trips, provided lavish meals at expensive restaurants, and had his cars filled with gas and washed. In exchange, the judge would set bail for defendants at the highest amount possible. Therefore the bail bondsman would earn higher bail bonds fees.

While the Senate convicted him 69-27, the charges actually pertain to his time as a state judge. This is unusual to say the least, that a federal judge was removed for actions stemming for time prior to the federal judgeship. Although, this was far from Porteous' only knock. Other allegations relate to unrelated cases where he improper contact with attorneys or false statements during his own bankruptcy proceedings.

Even though Congress found Porteous guilty, he was not charged with any criminal offenses. After an exensive 8 year investigation by the the Justice Department and FBI, no indictments were handed down. The judge blamed gambling and alcohol as reasons for his actions.