• Bail bondsmen seek answers for new fees

    By: Ian Silver

    Updated:

    TULSA, Okla. - A tiff between the City Court administrator and a local bail bondsmen association has bail agents threatening to stop posting bonds and letting inmates stay locked up.
     
    It started with a $10 fee for all bonds posted for city inmates at the jail. Then it became a fee to use city computers for bail bondsmen to pull reports to submit to the state. Bondsmen said it’s not fair but administrators said there isn’t a problem.
     
    Rusty Roberts is president of the Association of Bail Agents of Tulsa. He said it began in early July when the court administrator imposed a fee.
     
    “That any bondsman in Tulsa County wishing to post a bond had to pay a $10 fee in advance prior to posting each and every single bond on any defendant in the Tulsa County Jail,” Roberts said.
     
    He argued that it was against the law and sent a letter to administrator Kelly Brader. He then went to a municipal judge after getting no response.
     
    “[The judge] said we were correct that it was illegal to do,” Roberts said.
     
    FOX23 spoke to Brader Friday.
     
    “The City Council passed an ordinance increasing court costs. And one of those court costs that is on the books that the city is allowed to charge is $10 for people that use bonds,” Brader said.
     
    But after a judge stopped the charge Brader said they’re looking at the ordinance.
     
    “That’s what we’re looking at. How and when, and we’re thinking we misapplied it. It should be after the conviction,” Brader.
     
    Brader said she’s refunding the fees in the meantime.
     
    Roberts said that Brader also made another change. Under state law, bail bondsmen have to submit reports for every bond they write each month and they’ve also pulled those reports from a city computer designed just for that.
     
    “She has told us now we have to file an open records act under the Oklahoma Open Records request. Once that’s approved, we’ll have access to her computer at a rate of $100 per hour,” Roberts said.
     
    Roberts said bondsmen plan to stop posting bond for city inmates to avoid the fees. That could cause overcrowding at the jail. It could become a burden on taxpayers at a cost of $45 per inmate.
     
    Brader said it’s not an issue and the computer is still available to bail bondsmen.
     
    “But if they can’t find it and we have to do the work, then yes. I mean, we’re not going to treat them any different than we do anyone else.”
     
    Brader said it’s business as usual at the jail and taxpayers don’t need to worry about paying for extra inmate.


    Next Up: