Cincinnati’s Hamilton County has failed over nearly two decades to collect $2.1 million from bond agents when their clients failed to show for court appearances, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. At issue is a system that determines whether a suspect remains in jail or is freed until the case is resolved. In Hamilton County, a breakdown in that system allowed bond agents to take little risk while reaping large financial rewards. No one can answer why the money wasn’t collected – except that the government just failed to collect it.
“We understood that was dollars we could be collecting,” said Clerk of Courts Patty Clancy, who has been in office since 2009. Now, the government agencies pushing to collect some of that money say it is far more difficult than just saying, “Give us the money.” A push in the last year to collect that money uncovered a complicated bond process few understand and allegations of inaction and corruption. Prosecutors are negotiating with bond agents to get the $2.1 million in bonds forfeited when defendants failed to show up in court. Some bonds date to the early 1990s – when Joe Deters, now the prosecutor, was clerk of courts. Clancy doesn’t know why the money wasn’t collected.